Glavda People



The Glavda people live in northeastern Nigeria and Cameroon border.

Globally, the Glavda group totals 62,900 in 2 countries (, 2023). They are numbering 53,500 in Nigeria. They are part of the Chadic people cluster within the Sub-Saharan African affinity bloc.

Glavda People

Historically they are hill-dwellers, who resisted the Fulani Islamic holy wars. Today, some have become Muslim and wear traditional Islamic dress. However, the majority are split between traditional religious beliefs they have held for centuries and Christianity which has come through missionary efforts in the last 70 years.



Most of the Glavda are farmers who raise peanuts, maize, and millet on hillside terraces. A man's work includes farming, crafting leather, making baskets, spinning, weaving, and building. Women make clay objects, train the small children, prepare the meals, and do other household activities.


Most Glavda believe in a single god who is the creator of all things and who keeps his creation in order. They believe this god only intervenes with creation when order has been disturbed. The Glavda do not pray to this god, but rather to their ancestors, who they believe will intercede on their behalf. The Glavda believe that the Earth is the "mother goddess" who has birthed all other supernatural beings, including thunder and lightning, black snakes, crocodiles, and certain inanimate objects.



First mentioning of ‘Gelabda-Gebirge’ is by Rohlfs (1875:49ff) after his ascent of ‘Sramarda’ (in the Mora Hills). He identified several mountain areas by name. One of them were the ‘Gelabda’ hills. Since he also identified ‘Dladeba’ (Zelidva), Muller- Kosack (1999) assumes that he meant the Moskota hills. This is well possible, since Muller-Kosack (1997:690) reports that the Glavda once inhabited the north of the Moskota Hills, which are now occupied by the Verdeke clan (see page Mafa). Mathews (1934:8ff) reports that the ‘Galabda’ (Glavda) were, in the past, in constant war with the ‘Wula’ (here Mafa and not Wula proper). Muller-Kosack (1994:89) informs us that the Glavda originally separated from the Gvoko (see page Gvoko) and migrated via Uvagha (see Lamang groups) and Guduf to Gava (see Guduf). Aga’s brother went to Malgwe (Margi or Gamergu) while Aga settled in Gava (near the Basle Mission of today) under a ‘Ghavda’ tree, from which the name Glavda is presumably derived. Glavda are not supposed to burn the wood of the ‘Ghavda’ tree (ibid:96). Glavda refer to the Vereke Hill in Cameroon as ‘Vrakaha’ (ibid:97). They were not only driven out of the northern parts of the Moskota Hills but also from Gava (see page Guduf) and the foothills of Zelidva. They are no longer considered as montagnards but as inhabitants of the plains.



The Glavda occupy the plains between the Zelidva and the Moskota Hills, crossing the Kerawa river (international boundary) into Cameroon. The Gava (Guduf) are their western and the Zelidva are their northern neighbours. Their Mafa are their eastern and the Amuda and the Chinene are their southern neighbours. The Ganjara live in small settlements south and northwest of them.



Muller-Kosack (1999) estimates on the basis of the projections for 1996 (from census 1963 and census 1991) that there are between 30,000 and 40,000 Glavda altogether. Wolff (1971:69) estimates for 1963 about 20,000 Glavda for Nigeria. SIL also estimates 20,000 for 1963 in Nigeria and 2,800 in Cameroon (1982).



Wolff (1971:67ff) concludes from comparison with wordlists of others (Buchner, Rapp, Scheytt and Benzing) and his own research, that all Glavda speak one language, which is called ‘Glavda’. According to Wolff (ibid) the Glavda gave up their original language Gvoko after having reached their present habitat. SIL identifies Glavda as a dialect of ‘Wandala Proper’ (Biu Mandara A). Barreteau speaks of ‘gelvaxdaxa’ (Glavda) as a dialect of wandala-east (Central Chadic A). The Amuda and Ganjara speak Glavda, but they are not Glavda by ethnicity (Muller-Kosack 1994 ibid).



Muller-Kosack (1994) informs us that all Glavda share the same ethnic identity by tracing their ancestory back to Aga. Main settlements are: Ngoshe Kasa, Agapalawa, Attagara, Jubrili, Zambga, Arboko, and Boko Satu and Boko Kalkal. Aga had two wives: Pata and Zhikah. Aga’s marriage with Pata produced the lineages Zigila and Machiya, while the marrage with Zhikah produced the lineage Aga. The descendants of Aga Zigila and Aga Machiya are found in Ngoshe and Boko. The descendants of Aga Aga are found in Arboko, Agapalwa and Attagara (ibid 96f). Muller-Kosack (1994:132ff) informs us that the Amuda and Ganjara have their own ethnic identities, but that they are very close to each other.



No ethnography of the Glavda has been written so far. Main ethnograhic source are Muller-Kosack (mainly fieldnotes 1985 for Cameroon, 1994 for Nigeria). To mention are also Gula, Athba, Anon. Wolff, Buchner, Rapp, Scheytt are linguists.