The Ambele are numbering 9,700. They are part of the Benue people cluster within the Sub-Saharan African affinity bloc. This people group is only found in Cameroon. Their primary language is Ambele.



The people of Ambele live in the North West Province in the Momo Division and the western Widikum-Menka Subdivision. They speak a language called Ambele and are part of the Benue people cluster. Eleven villages use the Ambele language. Villagers can move from village to village by foot, but during the rainy season, the villages may be unreachable to the outside world. The men support their families by hunting, gathering, and small-scale farming.

Ambele people



88% percent of the population are Christians. 12% practice traditional ethnic religions. Of those Christians 55% are Roman Catholics and 25% belong to other types of Christian groups. The remaining 20% are Protestants.


Ambele information

Economy: Main carbohydrate staple(s): yam, rice, plantain, potato, maize. Main protein-lipid sources: fish, poultry, meat

Sexual division of production: Men do the hunting and farming, while women take care of the household and children

Land tenure: up until the 1960s, Africa was colonised by Europe and they owned the land of Cameroon

Ceramics: Low-fire pottery that is both functional and sculptural has a long history in Cameroon and Ambele.

Specified sharing patterns: men and guests eat before women and children.

Food taboos: A gourmet dish of viper steaks in a sauce is prepared, but only the oldest males may eat viper.

Marriage: Age at menarche (f): 14.27 years.

Age at first birth (m and f): Males do not marry or have children until they are able to support a family, Females as soon as she has her first period she is ready to be married and have children.

Completed family size (m and f): 10 people. This includes: husband, wives, and children

Age first marriage (m and f): Males do not marry or have children until they are able to support a family, Females as soon as she has her first period she is ready to be married and have children

Proportion of marriages ending in divorce: almost as many as marriages

Percent marriages polygynous, percent males married polygynously: 71% of males are married to 2 woman

Bride purchase (price): first marriage is arranged but the bride is not always sold

Inheritance patterns: women are supposed to receive the same share of an inheritance as a man of the same relation to the deceased. However, few women are aware of this law and custom does not allow women to inherit.

Parent-offspring interactions and conflict: Weaning from breastfeeding is a complex process that involved nutritive and social changes for children.

Homosexual activities, social attitudes towards homosexuals: Same-sex sexual acts are banned with a penalty of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 francs.

Pattern of exogamy (endogamy): The people of Ambele and Cameroon practice endogamy. They do not marry outside their culture.

What is the belief of the role of males in conception; is paternity partible? Are these “other fathers” recognized? The role of the male is thought to be the main part of conception. The woman is there to carry the child. Having multiple fathers is not a culture considered in Ambele.

The role of the Ambele woman is mostly for child bearing. The male is the most important of the household

If mother dies, whose raises children? If the mother dies, the father would marry a close relative to the mother and the newly wife would raise the child, or the child would become an orphan

Adult sex ratio: number of adult males divided by number of (reproductive) females: 15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

Different distinctions for potential fathers: The females parents set up the marriage. An older man is thought to be more favorable because he can support her better

Incest avoidance rules: Yes, but because Ambele people do not marry outside of their culture, it is hard for them to not marry a distant relative. But they do not marry cousins/brothers/sisters

Formal marriage ceremony: There are three steps, see the bride’s parents; second, organize the traditional wedding and third plan the formal weddind. When the female marries her husband her name changes. If there is a divorce her name will change once she is married again. The females parents arrange the married with the male.

Body paint: Woman of the ruling class paint their bodies

Haircut: Braids and head wraps

Scarification: Done by the Bangwa of Cameroon to enhance beauty and to indicate social status

The main type of music is Makossa.