|Keana Salt Works 1950s|
|The Chief Of Salt Works (with the Staff of Authority in her hand) with her assistant|
|Women at work|
It is said that the Arago settled with the Jukun at Kwararafa from where they migrated to Damagudu, then to Oturkpo and finally Idah. There, disputes over succession to the throne of Idah forced them to return via Makurdi under their Chief, the Andoma, from whom the settlement they eventually founded (about 1232 A.D.) derived its name, of Doma.
The Andoma had a younger brother named Keana whom he appointed Barde, war chief, of Doma and whom he sent to investigate the story told by hunters of salt pits some four days march from the capital.
Keana found the salt pits. The salt he discovered, was so good and the chances of making himself rich, so great that he decided not to go back despite his brothers orders to come home .
He built himself a town by the salt pits and called it Keana.
Angered by his brothers insubordination, the Andoma marched against Keana.
The Andoma’s next action was to try and shut up the spring. An iron cap was made with which he covered the salt spring. But having omitted, in his hurry, to offer the necessary sacrifices, the salt water burst the cap. The Andoma accepted this as an omen of the wrath of his gods and returned to Doma.
In order to ward off the dissension which he feared he had caused among the tribe, Keana sent the Andoma the first two sacks of salt from the pits.
In return the Andoma sent him a royal gown and installed him chief of Keana.
Theses picture are from 1964. They depict the production of salt as was done by Keana women over the generations.
The land adjoining each salt spring was divided into plots, some twenty feet by five feet. And we’re shared amongst Keana born women in the town.
Each women would collect salt water from the spring and sprinkle it on her piece of land. When the water dried up, it blistered the surface of the land into a whitish appearance. This blistered surface was then scraped off and placed in clay receptacles, then more spring water would be poured into that. The water gradually filtered through holes in the bottom of the receptacles into earthenware bowls.
The water collected in the bowls was then boiled and after it evaporated only crystals of salt remained. Finally the scrapings were replaced on the surface of the land and the whole process was repeated for more salt.
This seasonal industry was only productive during the dry months of the year. The rainy season would cause the pits to flood and the women would return back to town.
Till this day the tradition of sending two bags to the Andoma is continued. This is really not as an act of homage, for the Keana does not acknowledge Domas supremacy, but in accordance with traditional custom, which seeks to re enact the settlement of a dispute between two brothers.