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The Zarma people are a people of westernmost Niger and adjacent areas of Burkina Faso, Benin, Ghana and Nigeria. The Zarma language is one of the Songhai languages, a branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. Because of the common language and culture, they are sometimes referred to as "Zarma Songhay" (also spelled "Zarma-Songhai"). Zarma actually constitute several dozen smaller ethnic groups, who were either indigenous to the era prior to the Songhai Empire and have assimilated into the Zarma people, or else are people of Zarma origins who have differentiated themselves some time in the precolonial period (through dialect, political structure, or religion). Groups usually referred to as part of the Zarma or Songhay, but who have traceable historical distinctions include the Gabda, Kado, Tinga, and Sorko peoples. The Zarma live in the arid lands of the Sahel. Many live in the Niger River valley and exploit the river for irrigation. They grow millet, sorghum, rice.
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