The Mafa, also called Matakam, are an ethnic group localized in northern Cameroon and eastern Nigeria.
According to Lavergne, 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 and 150,000. Hallaire 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, 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.