Chamba people

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A féminine statue of the Chamba people.

The Chamba people, also known as Samba, Tchamba, Tsamba, Daka and Chamba-Ndagan, are an African ethnic group found in the Gongola State of east-central Nigeria and neighboring parts of north Cameroon.[1] They speak two distantly related languages: Chamba Leko, of the Leko–Nimbari languages, and Chamba Daka, of the Dakoid languages, both of which are a Niger-Congo language.[1][2]

Boyd says that the “Chamba Leko speakers are restricted to the easternmost part of the central area, for the most part on the Cameroon part of the modern border. The remainder of the Chamba are Daka-speaking”.[2] The Chamba speakers still speak various other dialects that are different from place to place. The central area is where the Chamba Daka (Sama Nnakenyare) live. That area is found in North east of Nigeria on the Cameroon border in Adamawa State.[citation needed]

The original colonial power who annexed the Chambaland were the Germans, but when Germany lost the First World War, this territory in Africa was divided by the League of Nations between British and France. “Where the majority of the Chamba live, straddles the present border between Nigeria and Cameroon”.[2]

The Chamba people have their own particular religious beliefs known as the Chamba religion.[3] The Traditional Religion of the Chamba is premised on a creator solar God (Su) and ancestor spirits who live with this creator. The sun god does not interact with living beings, but the ancestor spirits do.[3] The dead (wurumbu) are believed to continue living, but they live below the ground, follow the same style and sophistication as humans, but they are believed to be wiser and with supernatural power. Special people among the Chamba are believed to be able to interact with these ancestral spirits and they are revered by the Chamba people.[3]

The Chamba people were one of the targets of Fulani jihads in the 18th and 19th century. They were enslaved, and many migrated south into the mountains. They retaliated becoming raiding bands who attacked slave and trading caravans.[3][4] A minority, or about 15%, of the Chamba people adhere to Islam.[5]

The Chamba traditionally live in grassland area, farming cereal staples and cash crops such as cocoa and coffee. They are skilled artists known for their pottery, metal work and sculpture.[5]

The Chamba people are a significant ethnic groups in the north eastern Nigeria. The closest chamba neighbours are the Mumuye, the Fulani and the Jukun and Kutep people. In Cameroon, the successors of Leko and chamba speakers are divided into several states: Bali Nyonga, Bali Kumbat, Bali-Gham, Bali-Gangsin, and Bali-Gashu.[6] The Basari people of Togo and Ghana also go by the name Chamba, but they are ethnically distinct.[5]


  1. ^ a b Anthony Appiah; Henry Louis Gates (2010). Encyclopedia of Africa. Oxford University Press. p. 258. ISBN 978-0-19-533770-9.
  2. ^ a b c Raymond Boyd (1994). Historical Perspectives on Chamba Daka. Rüdiger Köppe Verlag. ISBN 978-3-927620-47-6.;
    Richard Fardon, Raiders & refugees: trends in Chamba political development, 1750-1950
  3. ^ a b c d Chamba Religion
  4. ^ RICHARD FARDON (1983), A CHRONOLOGY OF PRE-COLONIAL CHAMBA HISTORY, Paideuma: Mitteilungen zur Kulturkunde, Bd. 29 (1983), pages 67-92
  5. ^ a b c James Stuart Olson (1996). The Peoples of Africa: An Ethnohistorical Dictionary. Greenwood Publishing. pp. 124–125. ISBN 978-0-313-27918-8.
  6. ^ Fowler, Ian; Zeitlyn, David (1996). "Chapter 1:Introduction: the Grassfields and the Tikar". In Fowler, Ian. African Crossroads: Intersections between History and Anthropology in Cameroon. Book Publishers. pp. 1–16.