Mafa people

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The Mafa, also called Matakam, are an ethnic group localized in northern Cameroon and eastern Nigeria.

According to Lavergne,[1] the Mafa are split into two tribal sections, being the ‘Mafa proper’ (referred to as Maf-Mafa or ‘Mafahai’), and the ‘Bulahai’. The Mafas live in the central part of the Northern Mandaras, which is a region formed by the North area of the Mokolo Plateau and the mountains of northern Mokolo. The Mafa society is divided into several cantons: Moskota; Koza; Gaboua (Koza district); and Matakam-Sud (Mokolo arrondissement). There are also about 1,000 Mafa in Kughum, Gwoza, Nigeria. Total population estimates vary between 82,100[2] and 150,000.[3] Hallaire[4] indicates that population density in the area is between 99 and 140 inhabitants per square kilometer.

The Mafa speak three dialects, which are mafa-west, mafa-centre and mafa-est. Together with peoples such as wuzlam (Uldeme), muyang and dugwor (Dugur) they form part of the mafa-south sub-group.

It is understood that the Mahayana migrated from Roua and Sulede (which is west of Durum (Mofu proper)), towards the northwest. The Bulahay,[5] meanwhile, migrated to the west, alongside the southern borders of the present Mafa territory. Eventually they also migrated northwards where they mixed with the Mafahay, becoming the present Mafa.[6]

The Mafa belong to the Chadic language grouping. They speak the Mafa language. The population is 83.00% Muslim and 7% Christian. The Christian population is composed of Catholics (60%) and Protestants (30%).[7]


  1. ^ Lavergne, G., ‘Le pays et la population Matakam’, Bulletin de la Société d’Edudes Camerounaises 7, September 1944:7-73.
  2. ^ Boulet, J., ‘Les groupes humains’, Le nord du Cameroun, des hommes, une region, Collection Memoires 102, (ed) Jean Boutrais, ORSTOM, Paris 1984:119
  3. ^ Muller-Kosack, G., Cry for Death. Mandaras Publishing ( London, 1999 (4p)
  4. ^ Hallaire, A., Paysans montagnards du Nord-Cameroun, Les monts Mandara, ORSTOM Editions, Collection, Paris 1991 26 Fig 5
  5. ^ Bulahay Groups
  6. ^ Mafa - The Mandara Mountains Homepage. Retrieved June 03, 2013, to 16: 31 pm.
  7. ^ The Joshua project. Retrieved June 03, 2013, to 16: 56 pm.

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