Kamwe language

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Native to Nigeria
Region Adamawa and Borno States
Native speakers
(350,000 cited 1982–1992)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 higinclusive code
Individual code:
kvj – Psikye
Glottolog kamw1239  Kamwe[2]
psik1239  Psikye[3]

Kamwe is a Chadic language spoken in Adamawa State, Borno State in Nigeria and North Western Cameroon.

The Kamwe people and language are sometimes called Higi (Higgi). Kamwe elders say this is a derogatory name, given to the Kamwe by their relatives the Margi, that literally means "grasshopper". The Margi first called the Kamwe people "Higi" in 1924.[4]

In Nigeria about 80 percent of Kamwe are found in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State Nigeria, a substantial number of them are also found in the local government areas of Mubi North, Hong, Gombi, Song and Madagali in Adamawa State. The Kamwe people are also found in Borno State, especially in Askira/Uba and Gwoza local government areas.


Kamwe dialects include Nkafa, Dakwa, Krghea (sometimes called Higgi Fali), Fwea, Humsi, Modi, Sina, and Tilyi; Blench (2006) considers Psikye to be another.[5] Nkafa is well understood by all and is widely spoken, being the main language of administration and commerce, and having a literary tradition. It is natively spoken by the clans of Kwache, Kwaga, Kwabe, Kwaya and Kwaghe. The other Nkafa clans are Kwaha and Kwabuggi. (The Nkafa clans are said to descend from brothers [from the same mother] who migrated to Nkafamiya together from Ghye.[clarification needed] Other dialects of Kamwe are also divided into clans. For example, Tlowou is spoken by the clans Mbammi, Nyahuo, Nka, Zharawa, Towoo, Ngulvi and Mihalyi.


Most Kamwe identify themselves with Mwe-ci-ka (Michika), the ancestral home of all Kamwe people. Kamwe literally means people of the "Heavenly realms or people of the Rocks and Hill". The Kamwe people believe in a heavenly God called 'Hyalatamwe' Communication with Hyalatamwe directly is not possible in Kamwe culture. Hyalatamwe is revered and feared. Communication with him has to be through intermediaries called "Da melie or Tchuhye shwa" In the Kamwe culture, caste system does exist as the Kamwe race is broadly classified into 'Melie and Ka-Ligyi'. The founder of Michika (Mwe-ci-ka) was said to be one Kwada Kwakaa, a prince from Kuli in Nkafamiya on the hills of Michika. Kwada Kwakaa was said to be a warrior hunter who could hunt lions and leopards just by himself. When his father, who was the King in Nkafamiya, got to know that Kwada was 'kwa' 'kaa',{{[6]}} he mandated Kwada to be the ruler in the present day Michika.

A first-born male child is named Tizhe, a first-born female child Kuve. The first ten children in Kamwe culture are named as follows:- First male child is Tizhe, the female child is Kuve. The second male child is Zira, the female is Masi. The third male child is Tumba, the female is Kwarramba, the fourth male child is Vandi, the female is Kwanye. The fifth child is Kwaji whether male or female. The sixth child is Tari for male and Kwata for female. The seventh child is sini for male and Kwasini for female. The eight child is Kwada for both male and Female. The ninth child is Drambi for both the male and female. The tenth child is called Kwatri for both the male and female child. Subsequently any other child will have a suffix "hale" attached to the name signifying that the child was born in old age of the mother. Example is Kuve-hale or Zira-hale as the case may be. Twins or multiple births are celebrated in Kamwe culture.


  1. ^ Kamwe at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Psikye at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kamwe". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Psikye". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  4. ^ Tribal Studies in Northern Nigeria. C.K Meek 1931
  5. ^ Blench, 2006. The Afro-Asiatic Languages: Classification and Reference List (ms)
  6. ^ Oral Interview with Shi Mairama Wape 1991


  • Roger Mohrlang. 1972. Higi Phonology. Studies in Nigerian Languages 2. Zaria: Institute of Linguistics and Centre for the Study of Nigerian Languages.