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Beyond The Three: ‘Avugna Vugna’- Jerry Spotlights the Strength of the Mafa People in Borno & Adamawa States

The Mafa people are of very noble character, however, drinking alcohol is like a tradition to them – which I don’t like. They also believe so much in farming, and this hinders them from thinking outside the box.



Beyond The Three is a  series on BellaNaija where we celebrate and spotlight every tribe and ethnic group that is NOT Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo. We invite ALL BellaNaijarians to be a part of this initiative.

In the first edition of this series, we were introduced to the Idoma people; this was followed by the Esan people.  Joan introduced us to the Oegorok people and we learned about the Mhiships from MwanretMa’ade told us about the Bassa people.  We had the pleasure of reading about the Uwano people of the Weppa Wanno kingdom. We were taken to Langtang to meet the Taroks, thanks to Tanchit. Moses provided us with insight into the Isoko peopleNhaoma shared the Ikwerres with us.  We’ve also met the Bwatiye people, thanks to Kada, and the Yandangs, courtesy of Lynda. Following that, Kandyi introduced us to the Fantswam people.

In this episode, Jerry Nduvna introduces us to the Mafa people. Also called Mafahay, Mafa 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.

Meet Jerry

My name is Jerry Nduvna from Gwoza Local Government Area Borno State. My name, Nduvna, means ‘the final answer to all circumstances’. My language is Mafa and I speak it fluently.

The Mafa tribe

Mafa (Maffa) can be found in 2 Northern states of Nigeria (Adamawa and Borno State). In Adamawa State, Mafa can be found in 4 Local Government Areas, which are Madagali, Mubi, Hong, and Michika L.G.A. In Borno State, Mafa can be found in 4 Local Government Areas, which are Bama, Konduga, Mongonu, and Gwoza L.G.A The Mafa tribe is not that known because they never bother to go into politics, they only focus on their business and farm. The Mafa belongs to the Chadic language grouping.

The unique rites and cultures of the Mafa people

Mafa people are very simple and accommodating, they believe that a visitor/guest is a blessing to them.

The Mafa Wedding

This is a stress-less ceremony. Once the couple agrees to get married to each other, the father of the boy can now approach the girl’s parents to properly show interest in their daughter. If the girl’s parents accept their proposal, then the parents of the boy can proceed to pay the girl’s bride price and some other traditional requirements which are compulsory – such as Mugwudi and a big ram.

Alternatively, the boy and girl can run away. This is also part of the tradition.

The Mafa food is the finger millet and the soups are Mokotub, Kileb, Mishi, Shasheb, and Lak Baldav. Mokotub is the highly recommended soup among the Mafa soups which is mostly served to kings or elders in any Mafa ceremony and also to visitors. Mokotub is said to be the most delicious soup amongst all the Mafa soups, and that is why the Mafa people don’t joke with Mokotub.

Mokotub is a very simple soup to prepare when you have your groundnuts, dried fish, enough meat, a little spinach, pepper, and other necessary ingredients for soup.

When a person dies in Mafa land, youths will dress in our cultural attire to mourn the deceased. Before a deceased is granted funeral rites, his/her family members and friends must meet to plan the event. Execution of their plan starts immediately after the meeting. Drinks and Pap will be bought. However, this is mainly done by my clan – Vreke. Other clans, like the Zhelehi, Gaibihi, Zaruahi, and Gwadalai have their various burial rites.

The best and the not-so-good part of the Mafa people

The Mafa people are of very noble character, however, drinking alcohol is like a tradition to them – which I don’t like. They also believe so much in farming, and this hinders them from thinking outside the box.

What you should know about the Mafa language and culture

It’s so simple, sweet and makes a whole lot of sense. I wish the whole world could speak my language and I also wish the world would know about our annual event which is called Marai.

The common Mafa proverb

Avugna Vugna – Unity is strength.


Thank you so much, Jerry. We appreciate you taking time to talk to us about the Mafa people. BellaNaijarians, find out more about the series HERE. Click HERE to read more entries in the series. If you enjoyed reading Jerry’s description of the Mafa people and you’d like to share about your culture and traditional practices with us, please send an email to submissions(at)bellanaija(dot)com. Remember, the only criteria is to be from an ethnic group that is not Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo.


  1. Godali Zakaha

    July 23, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    Wow that’s wonderfull Am Maffa by tribe I do speak Maffa fluently am really proud of my tribe, All the best to my tribe, Zhigilə biy nga da pishing ma téléba

  2. Godali Zakaha

    July 23, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    Maffa my tribe my pride

  3. Godali Zakaha

    July 23, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    Am proud to be Maffa tribe, I speak maffa fluently, really appreciate your support ?, Wishing you all the best, Away zhigile da pushing ma téléba,

  4. Jerry Nduvna

    July 23, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    Thank you very much bellanaija

  5. Baldena Yaheda

    July 24, 2020 at 6:31 am

    Thank you Jerry for taking time to talk about Mafa culture.I m Mafa from Cameroon living in South Africa with my family. My Wife Aìssatou is also Mafa. Born in 1955, I’m from the older generation. What Jerry describes as our culture is what was left to his generation. I grew up in an ordinary Mafa village called Srak and can remember a bit of the uncontaminated Mafa culture. Before some of us became Muslims or Christians, the Mafa culture wasn’t alike what my son Jerry describes. I praise him for willingness to preserve and uphold and promote our culture. I will try in the next opportunity to describe marriage.

    • Godali Zakaha

      July 24, 2020 at 10:50 am

      Wow that’s good Sire, big thanks to you, wishing you all the best and your family,

    • Alexis Gazawa

      July 24, 2020 at 3:45 pm

      Amba kumba tsaval ngaya malpa!
      iy Alex Gazawa. iy te Cameroun. iy ngur malgoudje te moskota.

  6. Monday Ali

    July 24, 2020 at 10:52 am

    Mafa are good people. I am also a Mafa from Mubi, Adamawa State

  7. Yusuf Luka

    July 24, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    This is a great finding

  8. Emmanuel Ibrahim

    July 24, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    If we have four people like you in our Coulter we could have been known all over the world since,but thank God we have you now and you are still young God bless you.and your future family????

  9. Abdullahi Musa

    July 30, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    Wow!, Good job bro. I’M also mafa by tribe. Like you said unity is strength

  10. Dzavi

    September 2, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    I’m very happy with this topic of my brother jerry Nduvna God bless you my brother. I’m proud of you and I’m proud of my tribe Mafa God bless Mafa.

  11. Lildzavi Abdulmuminu Muhammad

    November 1, 2020 at 8:00 am

    Thanks for the update,
    well done Mr: Jerry Nduvna.
    I’m Mafa by tribe and virekehi clan I love Mafa people proudly #Proudly_Mafa
    May God bless you all Mafa people.

  12. Micheal Wanda's Dzavi

    February 4, 2021 at 11:01 pm

    I really appreciate your effort my dear brother may God continue to bless you,and stringt you in all your doing….im proudly Maffa for ever.

  13. Tiffany

    July 1, 2021 at 7:07 am

    I am an American, and found out through a DNA company called African Ancestry,that I am a descendant of Mafa people that are currently in Northern Cameroon. It has been a huge relief to find my roots beyond America slavery. I appreciate an article of this sort so much. It is very insightful, and I am excited to continue to learn all I can about my Mafa Tribe. Thank you Jerry for explaining in detail of a very rich culture. I am so proud to be Mafa.

  14. Jonathan H Gidaidi

    September 16, 2021 at 11:57 pm

    thanks for all my dear mafa tribe, I’m mafa by tribe from Maiduguri Borno state,Nigeria, I speak mafa fruently, i can write and read,and others some non inheritence languages like,Hausa,Kanuri,French and English,my ladies and gentlemen let us stand our feet and build our tribe,God is loving you much to chosen amongst the the mafa,don’t be a slave of somebody,for no reason,we are so many but workers are too low,where of the remained? NB:my dear brothers and sisters be courage and left good record for your tomorrow among your great people,even you’re not alive they could be remember always, I thanks thanks so much,#Jerry Nduvna thank you for your good,may God reward and continue to bless you abundantly, proudly mafa,proudly Nigeria,

  15. Musa Saidu

    November 14, 2021 at 6:24 pm

    Thanks for your various inputs. Am also Mafa from Hong, Adamawa Nigeria.

    I have stayed and studied also in ADSU Mubi, Adamawa State, Nigeria.

  16. Rosalie Elliott

    April 11, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    I have recently learned from African ancestry that my maternal lineage comes from the Mafa people and is so happy to read this article about the Mafa people. I am of Caribbean descent, my mother family came from St.Vincent.
    I will like to know more about my people and will like to visit there some day.
    I will like to get contact details of someone for added information
    Thank you

  17. April Harris

    August 3, 2022 at 10:08 pm

    Thank you, Jerry, for the insight into our tribe! I learned of my Mafa connection by matriclan DNA testing, through African Ancestry, as well. I agree, Unity IS Strength.


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