Gambo wiy da tsë ghër juk'   
Gambo who future+marker hold land lineage
Gambo will hold the land of the lineage

Escort at a girl's marriage
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Sukur before history

Although ground stone axes are occasionally picked up on the Sukur plateau, sometimes finding their way into diviner's kits, and there are querns (lower grindstones) hollowed into bedrock that are of considerable antiquity (David 1998), we lack other archaeological evidence of an early presence on the plateau. Historical linguistic (lexicostatistical) studies suggest that the languages of the Higi and Kapsiki diverged around the 13th century AD, and the Bura-Margi group from Higi-Bana around AD 300 (Barreteau and Jungraithmayr 1993:113). However, not only is the validity of lexicostatistics disputed, but so too is the degree of differentiation of Higi and Kapsiki, some regarding them as dialects rather than languages (see Language).The fact is that Sukur is a language clearly differentiated from those of its neighbors, and, since there are no traditions or other evidence suggesting wholesale migration to Sukur, we may suppose that the Sukur plateau has been occupied by ancestors of the modern Sukur for a very long time.

Women (we suppose) once kneeled to grind grain in the hollows on this boulder. Over a long period, erosion of the surrounding land surface removed the deposits from around it, resulting in its present isolated and tipped position.

While myths account for the general nature of human life (why humans suffer, how we obtained fire), legends claim or purport to explain historical events, processes or relationships. They do so by attributing them to quasi-historical figures like Aeneas of Troy or the British King Arthur who may personify social groups or processes but cannot be demonstrated to have had historical existence. The time of legends is generally distinct from but yet grades into the historical time to which in Sukur we first gain access through oral traditions. The most important legends of Sukur and its neighbors revolve around three, sometimes intermingling, themes.  

Study of these themes shows how, in the absence of written records, legends are used in Sukur and among its neighbors to establish important social facts, for example, dynastic successions, relations with neighbors and ritual authority. We failed to collect the Sukur words for legend and historical account, but suspect that they do not differentiate between them.

Sukur in history

The next period in Sukur history is tapped through oral traditions that in some cases overlap with historical accounts, in which cases they can be checked against each other. Our coverage of Sukur history begins with a study of history as reconstructed through clan histories, a prerequisite for which is a discussion of the nature of Sukur clans. We have also written a study of the sequence of chiefs of the Dur dynasty, beginning in or before the 19th century and continuing to the present.   

These materials can be seen as a historical backbone to the study of Sukur society in the later 19th and 20th centuries that we will be developing as time permits. They also constitute elements very likely to elicit argument among the Sukur themselves. We welcome such arguments and corrections; while, unlike others, we have engaged in a program of historical research, we have no privileged access to the truth.

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