Introduction / History
The Mada are located in western Cameroon on the border of Nigeria. Their native language, also called Mada, belongs to the Niger-Congo language family. The land they inhabit is mountainous and tropical. The temperature is hot throughout the year, and there is about 60 inches of rain annually. Rain forests and wooded savannas surround the Mada. Chimpanzees, monkeys, elephants, bats, and a variety of birds live in the tall grasses and patches of mountain bamboo that are scattered throughout the region.
Cameroon, bordered by six nations, has had a large influx of peoples and cultures. Many small ethnic groups living in Cameroon have, at some point, come from or traveled to at least one of the neighboring countries. The Mada originated in the Nigerian Plateau region. They have maintained their traditional culture, even though the society around them is constantly changing. Some of the Mada do not wear any clothes. Others decorate their skin with scars.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Mada live in a rural region and are primarily farmers, rotating their crops in terraced fields. Guinea corn is their staple food, and yams, beans, okra, pumpkins, peppers, and cotton are also grown. Most families raise goats, sheep, and chickens, as well as dogs, which are eaten at wedding ceremonies.
Within the Mada tribe, the men are responsible for planting the crops and reaping the harvest. However, much of the farm work is done by the women. For instance, they also work alongside the men to clear the land for cultivation. They also tend to the animals and the small vegetable gardens.
The Mada live in a patriarchal, or male dominated, society. Inheritances go first to the man's eldest son, then to the man's younger brother. Their society is also patrilocal, which means that newlywed couples live among the groom's family. A Mada marriage ceremony usually involves the payment of a bride-price. The prospective groom will pay the girl's family with money, wine, or animals. If he cannot pay, he will perform a bride-service. This means that he will agree to do agricultural work for the girl's family. Also, two families may exchange girls for their sons to marry. In such cases, no bride-price is needed. Polygyny (having multiple wives) is a common practice among the Mada. The first wife, who is considered to be the "chief" wife, has authority over the other wives.
Mada settlements are usually located on the summits of hills. A village is made up of several compounds. Each compound consists of several huts belonging to extended family members. The huts are round with mud walls, and each is built like a circle within a circle. The sleeping quarters are located between the two circles. The center circle contains the granary to store the crops. Each extended family compound is surrounded by a stone wall. A headman lives in the center of the village and oversees the entire community by judging all disputes. A council of elders assists him in the decision-making.
What Are Their Beliefs?
About half of the Mada follow the traditional religions of their ancestors. Their practices are generally animistic, or based on the belief that non-human objects have spirits. Nearly half of the others are Malikite Muslims, adhering to Islamic beliefs and traditions, which include praying five times a day, fasting during prescribed periods, and giving alms to the poor. Theirs is a religion of works based on the belief in one god, Allah, and in the teachings of his prophet, Mohammed. Few of the Mada profess to be Christians.
What Are Their Needs?
Efforts to evangelize the Mada has resulted in only a small percent of their population becoming Christian. Discipleship materials and tools such as Christian radio broadcasts are needed to effectively spread the Gospel message among this tribe. Above all, intercession is needed to break down the strongholds that have held the Mada in spiritual bondage for many generations.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Cameroon and share Christ with the Mada.
* Pray that God will give creative strategies to missions agencies focusing on the Mada.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Mada toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will open the hearts of Cameroon's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Mada of Cameroon.
|Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center|