Mbum people


Mbum / Mboum / M'boum / Buna / Mboutimba / Wuna

Globally, this group totals 137,000 in 3 countries. The Mboum people are found in Cameroon, Central African Republic and Chad.

The Mbum are considered the original population of the Adamawa Plateau in Cameroon. However, some histories recall that there were a people already in the area when they arrived there centuries ago.

The Mbum of Cameroon are numbering 87,500. They are part of the Adamawa-Ubangi people cluster within the Sub-Saharan African affinity bloc.

The Mbum of Central African Republic are numbering 19,500.



Their primary language is Mbum. Mbum is an Adamawa language of Cameroon. Speakers are mostly bilingual in Fulfulde. It is also known as Buna, Mboum, Mboumtiba, and Wuna.


Economy & Society

The Mbum are subsistence agriculturalists, specialized in the slash-and-burn cultivation of cereals, especially sorghums and millets. They fish and raise chickens and dwarf goats.

They have had a long and close relationship with the neighboring Dii people in the eastern parts of Adamawa Province to the extent that it is frequently difficult to make any distinction between the two. Their relationship with the Fulani, who entered the region in the early-19th century, is more complex. The Fulani are often perceived as a ruling class; nevertheless, the Mbum have historically participated actively in the states set up by the Fulani.

Culture & Religion

The most visible aesthetic features of the Mboum are traditional hairstyles and nose piercings of the older generations. Old Mboum villages also show interesting vernacular architecture (round adobe conical huts with pointed thatched roofs). Music and dances are part of daily life culture in Mbum society.  In the village of Pao, 142 kms south of Moundou, near the Cameroon border, beautiful head masks are still worn during rites of passage. They are made of fibres, coloured with red paint. They remind of Mali’s Dogon Kanaga elongated masks,

African traditional religion is deeply rooted in Mboum’s ethnic identity and conversion essentially equates to cultural assimilation. Missionary activity and Islamization have been active in the region after Chad’s Independence (1960),