The Mafa, also called Mafahay, is an ethnic group localized in northern Cameroon, Northern Nigeria and also scattered in other countries like Mali, Chad, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone.
The Mafahay, a Mafa tribe, migrated from Roua and Sulede (which is west of Durum (Mofu proper)), towards the northwest. 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.
Total population estimates vary between 82,100 and 150,000. A 2010 source placed the total population of the Mafa at approximately 300,000. Hallaire indicates that population density in the area is between 99 and 140 inhabitants per square kilometer.
According to Lavergne, the Mafa are split into two tribal sections, being the Mafa proper (referred to as Maf-Mafa or Mafahay), 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); (Mokolo arrondissement). There are also about 1m Mafa in Kughum (North, Nigeria).
The Mafa belong to the Chadic language grouping. They speak the Mafa language, with three different dialects: Mafa-west, Mafa-centre and Mafa-east. Together with many other languages of other African peoples (such as Wuzlam (Uldeme), Muyang and ugwor (Dugur)), they form part of the Mafa-south sub-group.
The population is 80% Muslim, 15% Christian and 05% are practitioners of African Traditional religion. The Christian population is composed of Catholics (60%) and Protestants (30%), Other Christian (7%), and Independent Christian (3%).
Traditional Mafa agriculture depends on a wide assortment of soil management techniques. The hillsides are secured with constructed terraces, that according to an author, "have reached a state of exceptional perfection". Other ethno-engineering procedures include :
Likewise, agriculturists in the mountains practice an extensive variety of soil fertility management procedures, including :
crop rotation and mixed cropping
They also use an intensive livestock-raising system in the management of the fertility of their soil. Livestock includes smallstock and a limited amount of cattle. In the dry season between December and May, livestock is allowed to roam free, so he can consume crop residues and leaves of wild bushes.
During the farming season, livestock is put in a pen and fed. The manure that accumulates in the stables is collected, preserved and finally spread out in the fields at the end of the dry season. The intensity and ingenuity of Mafa nutrient management is illustrated by the fact that termites are used to digest harvest residues and then fed to the Chickens.
Alluvial methods of mining were used by Mafa people to search for iron sand and utilize it for magnetite ore in Cameroon.
Mafa - The Mandara Mountains Homepage. Retrieved June 03, 2013, to 16: 31 pm.
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DeLancey, Mark Dike; Mbuh, Rebecca Neh; Delancey, Mark W. (2010). Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon. Scarecrow Press. p. 234. ISBN 978-0-8108-7399-5.
In reality, the actual population is much higher. Joshua Projects estimates that they 1,100,000 (joshuaproject.net/languages/maf
), but the number could be much higher given the current immigration movements towards the North and Adamaoua regions. Strong communities are also established in the East, South, and Littoral regions of Cameroon and various major cities in Nigeria like Kano, Jos, Abuja, and Lagos. The Mafa cultural association claims that there are more than 3 million Mafas Hallaire, A., Paysans montagnards du Nord-Cameroun, Les monts Mandara, ORSTOM Editions, Collection, Paris 1991 26 Fig 5
Lavergne, G., Le pays et la population Matakam, Bulletin de la Société dEdudes Camerounaises 7, September 1944:7-73.
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