Molokwo / Molkwo / Melokwo / Mokyo (Cameroon)

About 12,000 people, who live on Moloko mountain and its surrounding base, speak the Moloko language.

The territory in which they live is bounded by the Mangafe and Raneo rivers in the Makalingay canton, Tokombere Sub-Division, of the Mayo-Sava Division, in the Far North Province.

According to oral traditions, the Melokwo sought refuge on Melokwo mountain during the invasion of the Fulani in the early 1800's.

The Molokwo are part of Kirdi people.

The Kirdi are the many cultures and ethnic groups who inhabit northwestern Cameroon and northeastern Nigeria.

Molokwo people

Today, the Melokwo reside in approximately twenty villages that encircle Melokwo mountain, and they seem to maintain friendly relations with the surrounding language groups, with intermarriages not being uncommon. Around 10% of the Moloko claim to be Christian, while 75% practice Traditional African Religion.



No etymology of Mokyo or Molkwo is known to us. First mentioning of ‘Melko’ (Molkwo) is by Rohlfs (1875:50). Moisel (1912-13, map 1:300,000) refers to the massif as ‘Mukia’. Boutrais (1973:163) informs us that the massif is called after the ‘Molko’, who are a lineage of Mada origine. Mouchet (1947:104) speaks of ‘Molkwa’ as a place, which is linked to the ‘Mulgor de Marva’ (Gisiga). Seignobos (1991:146) mentions the lineage ‘Mbidime’ who came from ‘Mulgwa’ (Malgwa= Gamergu) in Borno. He speculates that the name ‘Murgur’ or ’Molgwor’ sounds similar to ‘Mulgwa’ (meaning Malgwa), but points out that the ‘Mulgur’ or ”Mulgwor’ came from ‘munjuk’ or ’muzuk’, which is in Musgum on the Logone river.



The Mokyo-Molkwo massif is situated about 5 km east of Mboku. The inselberg consists of a platform-like depression between 900 and 1000 m high on top of the massif. In the past all the settlements were found on top, but today the massif is almost completely abandoned. Names of settlements on top are: Tchombah (Molkwa) in the northwest, Mokyo in the east, Ftak and Doulbai in the centre and Tokozek and Lalawai in the south of the platform (Boutrais 1973:162). The Mokyo-Molkwo massif belongs to the departement Diamare, arrodissement Meri, canton Doulek.



Today population is around 12.000 (

Mouchet counts in 1947 (page 101) about 4,000 Mboku. Boulet et al (1984:119) counts, like Mouchet 30 years earlier, only 4,000 Mboku. The SIL website Ethnologue (SIL 1982) estimates about 6,700 Mboku. Mouchet (1947:101) still remarks on the extensive terrace culture of the Mboku. The population density lies today between 40 to 99 inhabitants per square km (Haillaire 1991:fig5).



Barreteau (1984:168) classifies melokwo, together with wuzlam (Uldeme), mada, muyang, as a dialect under mafa-south. The SIL website Ethnologue lists melokwo as a dialect of Biu-Mandara and sees it closely related to ‘Muyang, Giziga North and the Mikiri dialect of Dugwor’ (Mofu-Dugur).



Boutrais (1973:162) lists four ‘groupes ethniques’ who share the massif, but points out that almost the whole of the summit-platform belongs to the Mokyo . They came from Mada and are seen the first settlers. The Ftak who originate from the Gisiga of old Maroua (Marva) arrived second and never ceased to fight with the Mokyo in order to obtain land. The Mbideme came from Mulgwe (Malgwe=Gamergu) in Borno (Seignobos, ibid) and finally the Molko who came like the Mokyo from Mada. Although they all speak the same language, ongoing competition over land resources did not allow these four local groups to develop ethnic unity. Vincent (1991:60ff) sees the Mokyo-Mulkwo as belonging to the Mofu-Diamare. She argues that they are referred to by the Mofu proper (Duvangar, Durum, Wazang) as ‘les gens de l’est’ (Dugur, Mikiri, Tsere Molkwo)



Most important literature on the Mokyo-Molkwo so far is by Boutrais (1973) and Seignobos (1991). However, Boutrais is more interested in the process of downhill migration and deals with them as an example of it. Seignobos (1991) deals with the Mokyo-Molkwo only in the context of the so-called Murgur. ‘Murgur’ is the name of a regional clan of which lineages are found among all Mofu groups as well as among the Gisiga of Marva (Maroua). They originate from Musgum from where they migrated on their ponies, which they gave up after they become ‘Mofu’. They are known as royal blacksmith. Although the Mulgur of Marva (Mouchet , ibid) are quite influential in Molkwo, they only form a small minority (Seignobos, ibid).