Mafa in Nigeria

Photo Source:  Anonymous 
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People Name: Mafa
Country: Nigeria
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 9,200
World Population: 337,200
Primary Language: Mafa
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 7.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Chadic
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

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 Mafa 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.

Text Source:   Joshua Project