Table of Contents

No. 204/1923/11
Y Yola
6th November, 1923



I am directed to forward the attached for your reply.

A.D.O. Yola





With reference to your memorandum NO. 204/1923/7 dated 11th July, 1923, I am directed by the Lieutenant Governor to forward for your information and necessary action the following comments made by His Honour on the report:-

The rate of assessment does not appear excessive, but this isolated people, with practically no experts" (paragraph 12 of Part iii) may have some difficulty in obtaining the requisite cash".
  1. "Part i
  2. "Part ii
Resident's covering letter:
I agree with paragraph 2. Major Glasson appears to have shown patience, perseverance and tact.

Sgd. P.G. Harris

for Secretary

Northern Province.

No. 29/1921/10





With reference to your No.204/1923/11dated November 6th 1923 and the Memorandum No. 2091/1923/7 dated October 7th 1923 from the Secretary Northern Provinces attached thereto, I have the honour to submit my answers to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor's comments contained therein:-

Part 1 Para 1 I regret that I omitted to mark these two villages on my Map but the area on the Map submitted was so small that I included them under the general heading of 'KAM KAM'.
Para 2. No: this has been carefully guarded against and is one of the advantages of the new route
Part 2 Para 1. I fear this is the result of the rough 'bush' methods I had to employ. A cash-bowl, the contents of which was estimated at about 2lbs when full, was taken as the basic unit upon which my calculations were formed.
Para. 2. The Group Heads and Elders, the highest I could obtain.
Para. 3. I greatly regret this. His Honour's comment has been noted for future guidance.
Para. 4 Noted.

I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant,


No. 97/32

On Tour, Sabongari, May 26th, 1927.

The Resident,



Mambila Census Report

I have the honour to reply to your memo. No. 295/1926/75 of the 30th March 1927.

Succession & Inheritance 2 It will be noticed that para 4 of Capt. Izard's memo No. 97/1926/22 of 5th February 1927 seems to indicate that his belief in the matrilineal succession was shaken. I have spent some considerable time & pains on this question & I think I can say that as regards the "Torbi" section of the Mambila tribe the succession & inheritance for both chief & peasant is definitely patrilineal. I have not yet had an opportunity of ascertaining the rules of the other sections of the tribe but I am credibly informed that they are identical with these throughout. I am open to correction as Capt. Izard knows far more about the Mambila than I do, but I believe he was coming to the same conclusion.
3 I can state with certainty that the maternal uncle has no authority over children, nor is he entitled to their economic services. The only occasion on which he would have a call on them is if the father died when the children were young & the mother elected to return to her own people. This would occur only then if there were no near male relatives of the father living, who would look after them.
4 This seems to bear out my contention that the succession & inheritance are patrilineal. The mother certainly has great influence, especially in the marriage of her children, but in some ways the Mambila are extraordinarily advanced & and this may be a growth on the original autocratic authority of the male.
5 The eldest son of the slave wife is more the "executor" of the inheritance than the actual heir, I think. The actual heirs seem to be all the near relations of the dead man, but his slave children & and his own sisters & and their children are what might be termed the "best heirs". Should his free children elect to remain in the father's family they inherit with the others in equal shares. Should they elect, however, to return to the mother's village or ward or family the eldest slave son does not give them equal shares but only a small present - maybe the spear referred to.
6 I think that this is easily explained. The slaves in a patrilineal state naturally belong to the male side of the family. Therefore they inherit to keep the goods in the family. The free children, on the other hand, are free to go where they choose. If they choose to remain in the father's family the goods would not be dispersed & therefore they inherit. If they go away they only receive the small gift as an act of grace on the part of the executor.
7 Witchcraft I am not at all sure that the following is the whole truth or correct. It is most difficult to get them to talk of witchcraft. Perhaps when we get to know each other rather better, I may be able to get further information, but up to the present this is all I can report on the matter.
8 Witchcraft is not hereditary. The fact that a person has been proved to be a witch by his or her death by "gwoska" & and the unusual appearance of the heart at the post- mortem examination entails no penalty on his or her relations, no matter how near. They are not considered ipso facto to be witches or wizards.
9 A person becomes a witch by eating something. The nature of this substance I cannot find out & I am told that only witches themselves know how they became possessed of the power. I am not at all sure that they always become invested with the power of their own volition. One might become a witch by eating the substance unwittingly... Summarised - one does not become a witch by birth; nor by eating the flesh of a witch, even the heart nor by someone else's act; nor by virtue of the tribal "tsafis" Jiru or Tsok; nor through the agency of the spirits Kwuyip or Namap. It seems to be a very indefinite sort of acquisition. Only a witch can tell you how he obtained his power, & as all witchcraft is evil no one is admittedly a witch. Net result - the source of information dries up.
10 With regard to para 3 of Mr. Meek's comments, I am pretty certain that Capt. Izard is right & that Mr. Migeod was wrong. "Mambila" is not a Fulani term. It is their own appellation.
11 The heaps of stones referred to one finds only on the farms. They never had a custom of severing the heads of their dead chiefs to make a fetish of them, & I am certain that the stones are only collected as they say, to make the hoeing of the ground easier. The heaps are quite haphazard & seemingly in accordance with the above reason, & when I taxed them with making offerings to these heaps they laughed & said that they had better uses for their beer than to pour it onto stones that were a continual trouble to them in their hoeing. One finds stones thrown all round the edges of cultivated plots & I think that the above explanation is the true one.
12 When gathering information on the above points specifically asked for I gleaned a little hitherto unreported news that may be worth recording.
Spirits 13 There seem to be no evil spirits. All evil & sickness is the result of witchcraft promulgated by human means. There are two actual spirits, KWUYIP (pronounced like one would pronounce the call of a bird to a child "Tweet": i.e. the -UYI- is very short & NAMAP. I am speaking of course now only of the Torbi enclave.
14 KWUYIP are spirits that live in the streams. They are not seen now, but when the world was young some specially favoured humans used to see them & talk to them. They can still be heard in the song of a swollen rushing stream even now, but they have no truck with humans any more.
15 NAMAP is given by Capt. Izard as the word for God. With all due respect I do not think this is quite correct. I cannot find that they have any conception whatever of a Supreme Being as an entity. Namap `corresponds fairly closely with the Jukon or Jubu AKU, & is certainly not analogous to the latter's conception of SHIDAM the Supreme God, ethereal & uninterested in the petty comings & goings of human beings.
16 Each man's soul is a "namap". On death the Namap leaves the body but still retains an affection for its former abode & will if propitiated probably make its chief home in the grave of the dead man.
17 Imagine a number of small drops of mercury. Each one is a Namap. When the drops join up they form a composite body which is impossible to separate definitely into its original components. This is the idea of Namap that I have gathered.
18 When a man dies his sons plant a chediya tree over the grave. Offerings are poured on the grave to please the Namap or soul & to induce it to remain there & help them instead of going off to join the main body of "mercury". They say the chediya tree is only to mark the spot, but they do not seem very certain of this & I have an idea that the tree is to give additional shelter to the Namap.
19 As might be expected I can trace no clear-cut logical ideas on this subject of Namap, but I do say with certainty >that to quote Namap as their name for God may be misleading. In religion they are very backward and still really believe only in their fetish Tsok. Even pantheism has no place in their religious make-up as yet.

I have etc

ADO i/c Gashaka Div.