Mafa, Matakam in Cameroon

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Mafa people live simple lives in huts in various villages in northern Cameroon. Some of them spill over into neighboring Nigeria.

What Are Their Lives Like?

They grow red sorghum and millet on small farms. They protect their farms from soil erosion by using large stones to control the course of rainwater. They raise farm animals like chickens and goats and collect wild berries. The Mafa people drink an acrid-tasting beer that they call "zoum," which they make by fermenting millet. At times they eat foods others would disdain like termite larvae and mice. The Mafra people live in round huts with low entrances to prevent evil spirits from entering. Families have a hut for the head of the household, one for guests and another for wives and children. They keep their chickens and goats nearby. Their only furniture are beds which are simple wooden planks. They enjoy music. Their instruments include a five-stringed guitar, a clay flute, and a large drum, the latter two being prominent for funerals. They have their own war songs where men dance showing a long, curved throwing knife while someone plays an hourglass-shaped tambourine. Mafra women give birth while in the seated position. After the baby is born, they collect the placenta in a vase and secretly bury it. The Mafra believe the placenta is like a twin to the baby, and anyone who takes the placenta holds the power to harm the child. After someone dies, they place the body on a wooden bed to be visited by villagers. After dressing the body with cotton bands, they have a funeral meal in front of the body. Then the corpse is carried by the men outside the hut while others mourn and cry to the sound of a funeral drum. The body is buried in a hillside tomb in the fetal position.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Though there are Christian believers among the Mafa people, most practice their traditional animistic religion. The believe in a supreme god called Jigile. Their spiritual lives are dedicated to various spirits. Like many traditional Africans they believe in ancestral spirits. Each hut contains jars that they believe hold the souls of their ancestors. They make offerings to their ancestral spirits, sometimes as blood offerings. They have protective fetishes of their homes and villages which might be something as simple as a pile of stones or a broken vase. Some of the Mafa people claim they know future events, and horoscopes are part of their spiritual lives.

What Are Their Needs?

The Mafa people need the right amount of rain for their crops and livestock.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to show Himself powerful by blessing the Mafa herds and crops. Pray for Mafa believers to take Christ to others who are missing out on the abundant life Christ offers. Pray for a spiritual hunger that will drive the Mafa people to seek and find the only Savior. Pray for a movement to Christ among the Mafa people both in Cameroon and Nigeria this decade.

Scripture Prayers for the Mafa in Cameroon.


Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Mafa
People Name in Country Mafa
Natural Name Mafa, Matakam
Population this Country 1,001,000
Population all Countries 1,010,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 2
Unreached No
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 5  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed
Alternate Names Mafahay; Magumaz; Matakam; Mofa; Natakan
People ID 13201
ROP3 Code 106001
Country Cameroon
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 45  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Far North region: Mayo-Tsanaga division. From Mokolo town north.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Cameroon
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 45  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Far North region: Mayo-Tsanaga division. From Mokolo town north..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016

No people group map currently available. Use the above button to submit a map.

Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 2.00 %)
7.00 %
Ethnic Religions
10.00 %
0.00 %
83.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Mafa
Language Code maf   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Mafa
Language Code maf   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Mafa

Primary Language:  Mafa

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1958-1961)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1965)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1978-1989)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Mafa Jesus Film Project
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file Faith Comes by Hearing
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Mafa YouVersion Bibles
Text / Printed Matter Topical Scripture booklets and Bible studies World Missionary Press
Photo Source Anonymous 
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more