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The Guduf (Nigeria)

First mentioning of the name ‘Guduf’ is on Moisel’s map (1912-13). Mathews (1934:13) refers to the Guduf as a sub-group descending from ‘Gbuwhe’ (Buhe or Pohe) who speak ‘Afkabie’. Wolff (1971:70) informs us that the Guduf call themselves ‘kdupaxa’ or ‘yaxmare’ (the latter means ‘our people’). Muller-Kosack (1994:140ff) informs us that ‘Buhe/Pohe’ (or paxa) is of Turu/Mbra descent and that not only the Guduf, but also the people of Gava, Uvagha and Kusarha derive their ancestry from Buhe/Pohe. Guduf is not the name of an ancestor of the Guduf. Muller-Kosack (1999) believes that it might be a derivation from a mythical place of origin, described as a building of iron pillars with a roof made from a flat rock, called ‘Gudupe’ (or kdu). Wolff’s ‘kdupaxa’ could then be translated as ‘Buhe/Pohe of Gudupe’. It remains unclear whether ‘Gudupe’ is thought to have been at Turu or in Hduwa in the Mafa area, northeast of Turu (Muller-Kosack 1994:142f), or in Kapsiki (Wolff 1971:71).


Guduf is situated east of Gwoza Town, in the mountain saddle between Zelidva in the north and Dughwede in the south of the Gwoza Hills. Guduf consists of Guduf Bubayagwa (Guduf B) in the south, and Guduf Nagadiye (Guduf A) in the north. East of Guduf A we find Gava, which was founded by Ghwatada, a brother of Amthabe. Amthabe is not only the ancestor of the Guduf of Guduf, but also of the Guduf of Pulka and Wize at the northern foot of the Gwoza Hills. There are also ancestral links via Buhe/Pohe with Uvagha south of the Lamang village Hambagda, at the south- western foothills of the Gwoza Hills. Uvagha is today dominated by Lamang, while Pulka and Wize are dominated by Wandala speaking Zelidva. Kusarha is another historical Guduf enclave. It is found northwest of Guduf A. Their ancestor was Jaghuvade, who too was a son of Buhe/Bohe. While Guduf A and B belong administratively to Gwoza Central District, Gava belongs to Ashigashiya District.


A comparison by Muller-Kosack (1999) between estimated projections of the 1963 and 1991 Census made for 1996 results in 16,490 Guduf of Guduf A and B, and 6,822 Guduf of Gava (projection from Census ‘63. Guduf-Kusarha counts about 1,657 (projection from Census ‘91). The rest of the Guduf settlements of Census ‘91 are not of much use because of confusion regarding ethnic and settlement allocation. Many Guduf live in Gwoza Town. Muller- Kosack (1999) estimates about 5,000, which adds up to a total of about 30,000 Guduf in the Gwoza Local Government Area. Population density in Guduf and Gava is quite high, maybe between 100 and 150 inhabitants per sq/km (Muller-Kosack 1999).


Buchner (1964) refers to the Guduf dialect of Gava as ‘Yawotataxa’, spelt ‘Yaghwatadaxa’ by Wolff (1971:69f). This has to do with the Basel Mission of Gava (see also Rapp and Scheytt). Wolff informs us that Yaghwatadaxa means ‘the mountain of Tada’, which is Gava (ibid). Muller-Kosack (1999) informs us that ‘Ghwatada’ was the name of the founding ancestor of Gava, and that Buchner’s ending ‘axa’ might refer to Buhe/Pohe, since the father’s or an ancestor’s name is often added at the end. Wolff (ibid) compares the dialect of Gava and the dialect of Guduf-’Bubayaagwa’ and concludes that Guduf and Gava are one language. Guduf is a dialect of Biu-Mandara or Central Chadic of the Wandala sub-group.


Muller-Kosack (1999) is of the opinion that the Guduf and Gava are two sections referred to as Guduf. The Guduf of Wize and Pulka have been assimilated by the Wandala speaking Zelidva. The Guduf of Uvagha have been assimilated by Lamang speaking groups. The only Guduf living on their own territory are those of Guduf, Kusarha and Gava. The founding ancestors of Guduf and Gava were two brother’s of the same father, but of a different mother (Muller-Kosack 1994:140ff). R. Lukas (1973:24ff) reports of the Podokwa who were driven out from Guduf by the son’s of ‘Poxe’ (Buhe/Pohe). This is confirmed by Muller-Kosack and by Wolff (ibid).



No ethnography of the Guduf has been written so far. However, there seem to be a number of unpublished fieldnotes around (R. Lukas, Wolff, Muller-Kosack). Ha-Koo Kim (Leipzig University) is currently writing a linguistic PhD on Guduf.

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