Lamang groups

Lamang groups (Nigeria and Cameroon)

The Laamang totals 103,500 in 2 countries, Nigeria and Cameroon.

In Cameroon they are numbering 26,500

Their primary language is Lamang.

The primary religion practiced by the Laamang is ethnoreligion.



The Lamang (speaking) groups are found along the western plains of the Northern Mandaras, with Gwoza as their centre town. The Lamang as an ethnic group needs to be distinguished from the Lamang speaking groups. Muller-Kosack is of the opinion that Wala A and B (Fachikwe) are ethnically not Lamang but Zelidva. It is unclear how much Uvagha and Limankara (south of Gwoza) as well as Waga (north of Madagali) see themselves as ethnic Lamang.


Lamang people

Muller-Kosack (1999) believes that in an historical sense only the Hidkala, consisting of Vile, Hambagda, and Hudugum, are Lamang proper, but the Lufua too see themselves as Lamang.

Gwoza Town consists of a multi-ethnic population, whereas Gwoza Wakane is the Lamang part of Gwoza Town. Apart from Waga (which belongs to Madagali) all Lamang settlements belong to the Gwoza Local Government Area.



The name ‘Laamang’ (Lamang) is a fairly recent invention by the German linguist E. Wolff (1971). It is not only as a linguistic but also as an ethnic term for several Lamang speaking groups north and south of Gwoza. Wolff (1971:63n) explains that the name Lamang means ‘our people’. J. Lukas (1964) referred to the Lamang language as ‘Hidkalanci’. Hidkala, the historical heart land of the Lamang, is already mentioned by Mathews (1934: 21). The name Hidkala (consisting of Vile, Hambagda and Hudugum) comes from a grove of large mahogony trees in Hidkala (south of Gwoza Town). Other Lamang speaking groups are the Luvua, the Zelidva of Wala (both north of Gwoza), and those of Uvagha, Limankara and Waga (south of Gwoza Town), as well as Gwoza Wakana (in Gwoza Town itself). Moisel (1912-13) mentions on his map: ‘Wala’, ‘Lufua’, ‘Goso’ (a place in Dughwede, from which the name for Gwoza was derived later) ‘Hambasa’ (Hambagda), a river ‘Hirkala’ (Hidkala), ‘Wudugum’ (Hudugum), and ‘Woga’ (Waga). Moisel (ibid) does not mention the name Lamang. Mathews (1934:23ff) mentions ‘Luvua’, ‘Uvaha’, ‘Vile’, ‘Hambagda’ and ‘Hudugum’. Mathews too never mentions the name Lamang. The same applies to White (1941) who mentions ‘Hidkala’, but never Lamang. However, Lamang today is a widely accepted name for the so-called Lamang or ‘Lamang group’ (Wolff 1974:9). Wolff (1971:63) mentions a second autonym, which is ‘waxa’ or Waha (Muller-Kosack). ‘Waha’ has no literal meaning but is used spontaneously by Lamang speakers if they want to express feelings of astonishment (similar to ‘Aha’ in German, or ‘Waw’ in English).



The Laamang totals 103,500 in 2 countries, Nigeria and Cameroon.

In Cameroon they are numbering 26,500

Muller-Kosack estimates from the census 1963 projection for 1996 that there are (by excluding the Zelidva of Wala) about 15,000 Lamang. If we include the Zelidva of Wala, there might have been up to about 25,000 Lamang speakers in 1996.



Wolff (1971:64) introduces the name ‘Laamang’ as the name for a language group of Biu-Mandara (Central Chadic, which includes not only ‘Hidkala’ and ‘Alataghwa’ (meaning Zelidva), but also ‘Vemgo/Vizik (Woga)’ as well as ‘Turu’. Wolff later (1974:9) applies the term ‘Lamang group’ for: ‘Zaladeva (Wakura/Alaghawa)’ , ‘Dzuba’ (Juba), ‘Lghva’ (Luvua), ‘Gwozo’, ‘Hdkala’, ‘Dlge’, ‘Waga’, ‘Turu’, ‘Vizik’, ‘Vemgo (Ghudvn)’, whereby he refers to the Turu, Vizik and Vemgo as ‘Turu-Hde’. Muller-Kosack (1999) is of the opinion that such a wide definition of a linguistic ‘Lamang group’ needs to be reviewed. Langermann (1991) seems to have started such a review by comparing Hide and Lamang phonology.



Muller-Kosack (1994:1-17) informs us that the first settlers of Hidkala are the Vile. Before they moved down to the plains, they lived on the foothills of Hidkala (west of Korana Basa in Dughwede). Because they are not very numerous the people of Hambagda became more powerful, which is also shown in the fact that the Chief of Gwoza always came from Hambagda, and why Hidkala is nowadays only known as Hambagda. However the traditional name is Hidkala. Hidkala is, in traditional terms, the heartland of the Lamang proper. Lamang ethnicity of today has more to do with wanting to be recognised as an inhabitant of the plains rather than as one of the mountains. This type of Lamang ethnicity is now often contested by groups who make a quest for montagnard identity in order to shift power.



Wolff is so far the most important source for the study of the Lamang groups. Muller-Kosack has extensive fieldnotes on the Lamang and wants to challenge some of Wolff’s ethnographic constructs, e.g. that the Zelidva were Lamang.