Mafa people

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Total population
500,00 - 800,000
Regions with significant populations
northern Cameroon and eastern Nigeria.
15.00% Muslim, 35% African tradition followers and 50% Christian (of which 60% Catholics and 40% Protestants)

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


It is understood that the Mahayana, a Mafa tribe, migrated from Roua and Sulede (which is west of Durum (Mofu proper)), towards the northwest. [1] The Bulahay tribe, 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.[2]


Total population estimates vary between 82,100[3] and 150,000.[4] Hallaire[5] indicates that population density in the area is between 99 and 140 inhabitants per square kilometer.[1]

According to Lavergne,[6] 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).[3]

The Mafa belong to the Chadic language grouping. They speak the Mafa language,[7] having three different dialects: the mafa-west, mafa-centre and mafa-est. Together to other many languages of other African peoples (such as wuzlam (Uldeme), muyang and dugwor (Dugur)) they form part of the mafa-south sub-group.[2]

The population is 15.00% Muslim, 50% Christian and 35% tradition followers. The Christian population is composed of Catholics (60%) and Protestants (40%).[7]


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

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