Birifor people


Birifor / Birifo / Malba

The Birifor people (also Birifo or Malba) are an ethnic group of about 217,300 (, 2023) in West Africa, primarily located in northern Ghana, southern Burkina Faso, and northern Ivory Coast.

Until 1957, they lived under the administration of what was known as the Northern Territories in the British Gold Coast colony. They are closely related to the Lobis of Ivory Coast. Today they are concentrated around Namdom in the upper West Región of Ghana.

Birifor People

Introduction / History

The people name is Birifor and the language they speak is Birifor which is found in two dialects, the northern dialect, spoken in the Malba region, and the southern dialect, spoken in the Batie region. It is a Voltaic language related to the Dagara language with which it shares part of the vocabulary. The Birifir are found in the south west of Burkina Faso, and also in the north west of Ghana, in the Wa region. Their Birifor dialect again is different. It is believed that the Birifor in Burkina migrated from Ghana many years ago.



They speak one of the Molé-Dagbane languages.


Culture and economy

They live herding cattle and by subsistence agriculture, raising millet.

They live in extended families, in very large mud houses. At some point the sons with their wives and children move away from their father's house and start living on their own. They live off the land and sometimes have small cattle and chickens. Their economy is one of exchange; on the market that takes place every fifth day, they sell their surplus goods and buy what they need. Main products are local home-made goods and livestock. Some goods are still paid for with cowry shells. Malaria is common.


They are animist in their religious loyalties and make.