The Late Ngo Kangyang Ruth Gyang-Danja was born at about 1914 into the family of Late Da Chun Anap of lo Mak of Challang and Ngo Garos Gyang of lo Duyah in Zawan village of Jos South Local Government. She had two sisters and a brother whom she cared dearly for. Although Late Ngo lo Danja (as she was fondly called) did not have the privilege of formal education, she grew up under the tutelage of her father who passed on to her some of his skill which she lived with till she passed on. For example, her late father, Late Da Chun Anap was known as a great farmer and among the native priests to perform the annual rituals to usher in the farming season before any other persons or groups were allowed to go to farm in the village then, and Ngo inherited this farming prowess which she demonstrated even after getting married and moved to the city.

Ngo lo Danja also acquired a unique gift of herbalism for helping barren women with fertility issues, a skill she learnt from both her father and grandfather who mentored her in identifying and preparing herbs for fertility and other illnesses. Although she later vowed not to teach any one this skill because she believed it came with some form of dark secret and fetishism which did not rhyme with her Christian principles, she still used it on rare occasions to help some prominent women who were finding it difficult to bear children.

As an outgoing person and enterprising individual, Late Ngo lo Danja also patronized the then colonial tin mining fields where she became popular and was nicknamed ‘Ngo Kachalla’ (a popular name for a happy, friendly, and outgoing person both in English and other languages) by visiting mining workers from the then Kanem Bornu region. It was in the course of her voyages in Bukuru that she met with her heartthrob, the young and handsome Late Fwam Gyang (a.k.a. Dara Danja) and went into a lifelong matrimonial relationship till “death did them part” and were blessed with two children — Martha and Dalyop.

Although she never had the privilege of acquiring western literacy, Ngo lo Danja’s tenacity and zeal for knowledge led her to enroll for adult education classes after her wedding to Dara Danja (who was then -a member of the colonial government’s Native Authority Police), where she learnt to read the Hausa Bible as well as scribble some words in Hausa and to calculate money in particular. With the ability to identify words and figures, she enrolled into sewing school and learnt tailoring, a skill she practiced most of her life, making most, if not all of the clothing she wore until old age. She also had an enterprising spirit where she supported and later took over her late husband at the then exquisite restaurant, he had lunched that was talk of town those days in Jenta, where they lived and he (Dara Danja) later became the first Ward Head after Nigeria’s Independence from the colonial masters in 1960. Ngo managed the restaurant and later joined the grain chain of distribution where she travelled within Plateau and neighboring states buying grains in wholesale and selling to retailers. However, her soft spot was that she was too kind and caring to the extent that many customers took advantage of her kindness and bankrupted the business with excess credits that were never paid back till she gave up the business.

It is true sometimes that the music is best enjoyed when listened to from the mouth of the original musician and this applies to the story of Late Ngo Kangyang with a tale of her 100 years of life stories. Ngo was a good historian with vivid memory and a flare for telling stories that put the listener in the scenario. She told stories about how she was instrumental, under the leadership of Late Ngo Saratu Bulus Bature with Ngo Dr. Naomi Jugu and other women, in uniting Berom women from all the various districts into one group that later culminated into the Berom Women Association which began as a group of dancers passionate to show the rich culture and tradition of the Berom people when they picked up the challenge from their counterparts from the majority tribes then (Hausa, lgbo, Yoruba, and Urhogbo) who dominated the cultural showbiz during the colonial days. Particularly, she told stories of how she and other Berom women felt it was time they joined the stage and represent their people as did the other major tribes during the first visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of England at the first airport in Jos (known as Jos Old Airport) when they visited Jos in 1956. The first dance session and several other sessions of that group were held in her Danja Street home, which she opened up too many and not just her family of dancers. The dance group, led by Ngo Dr. Naomi Jugu, later grew and became famous that it was invited to official state events as well as cultural festivities both in and out of Plateau State. One of their biggest trips was their representation of Plateau State at FESTAC 77.

Not only did she play one of the instruments (known as GWAK made from the cactus plant uniquely symbolic to the Berom nation) that formed the traditional music the dancers moved to. Ngo was largely in charge of the costumes they wore. Being the meticulous and neat woman she was, Ngo managed to keep most of the items from her dance days: items, which are deposited in one of her quaint vintage suitcases.

Ngo believed strongly in the unity of the Berom nation so much that she could always find a way to map out to her grandchildren how they are related to “Pam” from Du or Gyel, even though they hailed from Sho in Barkin Ladi. Ngo Ruth Kangyang Danja Gyang was a very

jovial but strict woman who meant what she said. Her “Yes” meant just that and so did her “No.” She also has a history of political activism in her local community, Jenta/Apata Ward, and was also a very strong supporter of the Middle Belt Movement. Even at a time when women steered clear of politics, Ngo worked in the background and sometimes at the fore to inspire people around her into participating in affairs and events geared towards the greater good of the community.

One very significant event had taken place in Ngo lo Danja’s life when she fully accepted Christianity and was baptized in 1950 at the ECWA Church, Bukuru by Rev. Musa Jibo a few years after her marriage at about 1945 — as she will quickly recall to anyone who was interested. From there till she passed on in 2018, Ngo adhered to the Christian life—the best way she knew—and was ever willing to engulf herself in response to the Great Commission. Her passion for Christ caught her in a web of evangelism, including several missionary journeys and networking with groups like the Sabon Rai Don Kowa as well as great evangelists like the Late Paul Gindiri and his wife. She was also called upon many times to serve as part of the leadership of the Church women’s fellowship and in other capacities until age caught up with her and the events leading to her death.

Her absence is being felt in the community and Church, which her late husband, Dara Danja, and she were amongst the first residents and worshipers, respectively.

 

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Isaac Dalyop Danja Gyang

    Well deserved Honors to Excellence. God bless the Berom Nation and her traditional institutions.

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