(a) General Mambila name ... SHOWA (or SUR or
(b) Use. In connection with the central Mambila
rite, which is a Fertility Cult. Also brought out at burials of
The mask is worn on the head together with a full length robe of
netting and cocks' feathers which covers the whole body.
Masks are still made by a large number of people and are not used
until they have been 'consecrated'. This is done by killing a
chicken and pouring a small amount of its blood onto the mask.
Some breast feathers are stuck to the mask with the blood. The
method of killing the chicken is to slit its mouth and allow it
to bleed to death.
The main rites take place just before Guinea corn planting in
June or early July. Each Hamlet or sub-unit in the village has
one or more masks, which are the personal possession of the cult
holder and usually inherited. WARWAR village for instance has 11
I cannot give a clear description of the actual rites. The
holders seem to meet together at a centre point of the village
and dance. They then go round the various hamlets. The central
rite seems to be an offering of corn beer to an upright stone,
followed by pouring some into the ground. More beer is then
The dancing is individual rather than group, and very violent.
Each masks represents a different animal or natural force and the
appropriate dance does seem to mimic these. .
Anyone may actually dance in the mask, and usually it is not the
owner, who is too old. The masks may not be seen by the women. It
is said that if a woman accidentally sees one she will get sick,
unless a special medicine is made for which she will have to pay
at least one chicken.
The dancing and beer drinking may go on for several days.
There are three masks:
- Type of mask MAPE (i.e. 'wind')
Village of origin; TEP KWAR in Mambila District, Adamawa.
Name of maker... now forgotten.
Age: About 35 years.
- Type of Mask... BUR (i.e. Dog)
Village of Origin... Mbamnga Village, Mambila District,
Name of Maker.... GUMI (died about 1943)
Age of mask.... about 12 years ?
Cost: £1. Not in use when bought.
- . Type of Mask.... MAHIR (i.e. 'storm')
Village of Origin.... Mbamnga
Name of Maker.... GUMI
Age of mask, about 11 years
B. SMALL FIGURESGeneral Mambila
I understand that they have individual names, but was unable to
find out what they are.
(b) Use... In connection with making medicine
for sickness. They are consecrated in the same way as the Showa
masks, and are kept in a special corn bin called TOWA, beneath
which are 3 stones. The owner of the cult brings them out of the
corn bin when the medicine is to be made, and places them on
stones. They are covered with a net - a net is also used to cover
the head and shoulders of the dead chief during burial rites.
The sick man brings a chicken, which is killed and the TACHOP
figures are smeared with its blood. The sick man then closes his
eyes. The medicine man opens his eyes for him, directing them
towards the figures and says (words to the effect): "You see
this; you have seen this; your sickness will now get better".
There are 5 small figures labelled B1-5. The two larger ones cost
5/- each, the smaller ones 2/- each. All came from Mbamnga
Village in Mambila District, Adamawa, but I could obtain no
reliable information about their age or the name of the maker.
Similar figures are still being made. All have been recently in
use. One still has traces of blood and feathers on it. The one
wearing the loin cloth was so clothed when bought.
- STOOL. Kaka name... unknown.
Use... The Chief's personal stool.
Village of Origin... ANTERE village of Mambila District,
Name of Maker.... Unknown.
Age.... About 20 years ?
Tribe... The MFUMTE branch of the KAKA people.
- MAMBILA LONG DRUM Mambila name of drum:
Use. This drum is used for a dance called KATI which is held in
October, and occasionally for other dances. It is held between
the knees when in use. The head is made of Antelope hide.
Village of Origin... WARWAR village, Mambila District,
Name of Maker... NGARI of NDIEL quarter.
- BILA ROUND DRUM Mambila name of drum...
Use... This drum is used for all dances except
Kati. The head is made of cow hide.
Village of Origin... WARWAR
Name of Maker... MBON of Warwar.
- BATTLE Mambila name... BATI
Use... In all dances. The seeds are only
obtainable from French Territory near Fumban, and are called
Village of Origin... WARWAR
Name of Maker and Age... Unknown, but age not more than 4
years. Commonly made by the women.
- and 6 JUJU SUITS
Mambila name... MBEN or Suwa Mben.
Use... Costume for the young boys' dancing and
play. It is said that this is the remnant of what was
originally the central cult among the North Eastern section of
the Mambila who are known as the TORBI or the 'Men Before'
because they took the brunt of the Fulani invasion from Banyo.
However when these people learnt of the SUWA cult from Warwar
and the southern villages, they took it up and Mben gradually
became what it is now - of no significance but simply a
children's play dance. The women are still not allowed to see
There is another cult called Suwa Ndang, also mainly a play
dance, but use is made of the rite to discipline the children.
The symbol of this is a long skin-tight black suit, embellished
with tufts of cock's feathers, with the head covering elongated
into a long peaked hood. When the main Suwa masks (also called
DUWA) are brought out, the young men will don the NDANG suits
and join the dance.
Name of Maker and age... unknown, but the suits are still
E. HOUSEHOLD OBJECTS
- 1-3. SHIELDS Mambila name.... BIR
Use.... War and Hunting. Their use in war is
obvious. In leopard hunting, the Mambila will encircle the
beast and gradually close in. When finally the leopard charges,
the shock will be taken on the shield and the leopard killed
with the spear.
Village of Origin... Mbamnga village of Mambila District,
Name of Maker... SHIYAMI of MBAMNGA (?)
Age.. Possibly 25 years. They are still made, but only round
Warwar and Mbamnga and in the Tikar Plain (Fr. Territory).
Cost... 7/- each...21/-.
- 4-5 SMALL SHIELDS Mambila name...
Uses, etc... Same remarks as for d. 1-3 apply.
Cost... 3/- each... 6/-.
- 6-7 SWORDS Mambila name... BOMVA
Use.... Same as that of a matchet.
Village of Origin... VOKKUDE Village of Mambila District,
Name of Maker... Possibly BONTOP KILA of VOKKUDE.
They date at least from the 1914-18 war. They are no longer
made in Mambila, having been completely supplanted by the
Matchet from the Canteen. Swords of a similar pattern with
similar handles are fairly common in Bamenda, but all seem to
agree that these are genuine Mambila products. They are
mentioned by Meek as being unique in Mambila, but these are the
only two I have ever seen.
Cost... (a) with handle...9/-. (b) without...4/-
- 8-13 SPEARS 8. Two
spears. Mambila name... GUAL MBOLL.
Use... War and hunting; the Mambila had no
bows and arrows or other weapons apart from their swords.
These spears are used nowadays purely for show... as the
Mambila say for 'Nyanga'.
Village of Origin... KILA TING Quarter of Kabri Village. The
name Kila indicates a blacksmith quarter.
Name of Maker... GAMFI of KILA TING.
Age... About 10 years.
Cost... 16/- and 19/- ... £1-15-0.
- 9. Mambila name...GUAL NDU.
Use... War and hunting and show.
Village of Origin... WARWAR.
Maker... DANG of NDARUM Quarter, Warwar Village.
Age... 2 years.
- 10. Mambila name... GUAL MBILMBANG
Village of Origin... LEME
Maker.... WUMBAR of LEME
Age... 1 year.
Cost... 10/- and 4/-... 14/-.
- 11. Mambila name... GUAL BVULI.
Use... This type of spear is given in exchange
for a wife in Exchange marriage, as part of the marriage
- 12. Mambila name... GUAL MBILMBANG
Use... Hunting, especially for bush cow and
larger game. This particular spear is said to have killed many
Village of Origin...VOKKUDE
Age... Not known by the owner, but 'very old indeed'.
Name of Maker... Not known.
- 13. Mambila name... None, or simply GUAL -
Use... Show ('nyanga')
Village of Origin... Made in Vokkude. These are copies of
Fulani spears with Fulani spears with Mambila decorations.
Maker... Not known.
Age... Only a year or two at most.
Cost... 10/- and 4/-... 14/-.
- Three hoes. Mambila name... VUN.
Use...§∑∑ Agriculture and marriage
Village of Origin... VOKKUDE
Maker... Not known. Age... About 3 years, one older.
Cost.... Fixed by the Native (Pagan) Court in marriage cases at
5/- each... 15/-.
- ONE ANTERE type hoe for comparison, of a type only used now
by the KAKA (Mfumte) people to make marriage payments. Local
name, age, etc., unknown.
Mambila name.... SAK
Use... By the women only for carrying loads,
etc. The men carry loads on their heads.
Village... Bought in Gembu, but they are made and sold in every
Materials used... grass.
Age... 1 year.
Cost... 3/6 each... 7/-.
Mambila name... CHIYEK. Usually reddened with ochre, in which
case they are called CHIYEK NORI (= 'Banten al'ada').
Locally made from Mambila grown cotton (VULLE).
Mambila name... TOLFALKBE
Use... This is twin pipe which is apparently
only to be used by a woman who has had twins.
Age and Maker... Unknown. Village... MVEREP Hamlet of WARWAR
Mambila name... TOLTAMA
Used ... by men and women.
Mambila name... LUMYARENE
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