The Berom people are found in Plateau State, North Central Nigeria with an estimated population of 1.6 million (National Census, 2006). Their homeland covers Jos North, Jos South, Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas with pockets of their population found in Jos East, Mangu and Bokkos Local Government Areas of Plateau State and Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The following ethnic groups are neighbours to the Berom. To the North are the Anaguta and Anabuze (Buji), the Afizere to the North East, Bacce (Rukuba) and Irigwe (Miango) to the North West, to the South West, the Aten and Takad, to the South are the Ron and the Kulere while to the South-East are the Mwaghavul.
Some versions of Berom history believe that some migration occurred from the North African sub-region through Niger Republic, Sokoto and subsequently to the Jos Plateau.
Another narration of the migration school believes that the Berom migrated from somewhere in the Central African area and are linked to the Bantu civilization. In this regard, Bernard Fagg, points out that the Berom double human headed earthen pot (rweytoh) usually associated with roylty and kept in the custody of a ritual Priest (Gwom kwit) is a clear evidence that the Berom belong not only to the Nok Terracotta ancestry but to the Bantu civilization that dates back 200 B.C.
Historical accounts have documented the somewhat invincibility of the Berom territory and indeed that of the Anaguta, Buji and Rukuba areas against the Jihadist expeditions of Usman Dan Fadio, Queen Amina of Zazzau and Yakubu I and II of Bauchi. Oral tradition celebrates this fact, that the Berom today; whether Christians or Muslims were never coerced into embracing their chosen faiths and religion.
The Berom people are predominantly agrarian, cultivating crops such as Fonio (Acha), Maize, Millet, Guinea Corn, Kpana (Tamba), Irish/Sweet Potatoes, Bekyi (Berom yams), MVaat as their foods. They also cultivate in commercial quantities a wide variety of vegetables including cabbage, carrots, green beans, pumpkins, garden egg, Roussel just to mention a few. Some of the most popular delicacies of the Berom include tere (gwote), tuk -chun and mama dyara (garnished beef, chicken and game with black benniseed powder). Today, these dishes are known and patronized nationally and internationally. Acha for one is a preferred cereal for diabetics the world over. In addition, a significant number of Berom households also practice animal husbandry.
The common animals they keep include nyi (dwarf cattle), sheep and goats, pigs and a wide variety of birds.
Furthermore, Berom land for several decades (1909 – 1975) sustained a booming Tin Mining Industry on the Jos Plateau. This industry attracted a large population of West Africans and expatriates. The mines and the corresponding attraction of diverse people gradually transformed Jos from a Tin City into a city widely referred to as a miniature Nigeria with at least fifty ethnic groups resident and coexisting peacefully in Jos.
On the whole, Tin mining activities impacted Beromland in several ways including devastation of farmlands and land alienation, introduction of wage labour, colonial taxation and other urban processes. During this period, the Berom started to relegate their traditional art and craft such as weaving, pottery and iron smelting in favour of labour in the paddocks, workshops and offices of mining companies such as Amalgamated Tin Mines of Nigeria (ATMN), Kaduna Prospectors, Bisichi Jenta, DB Zang Limited and so on. A positive result of this today however, is that a lot of the Berom are inventors, technicians, engineers, mechanics, carpenters, masons, plumbers and electricians serving and working all over Nigeria.
Among the popular Beorm Festivals and rites are Mandyeng, Vwana, Badu, Nshok and Ngasang. To a large extent, these festivals celebrate crop harvest, hunting expectations, circumcision and the onset of the rains. These festivals are usually celebrated between November and April every year.
Berom Educational and Cultural Organization, BECO, instituted Nzem Berom in 1981 as a unifying cultural festival of the Berom to be celebrated centrally in Jos and this festival has been held in April of every year.
[Nzem Berom 2018 official programme]