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The Maya, Wadela,Vale (Cameroon/Nigeria)

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The Maya, Wadela and Vale are three very small ethnic units treated here together on one page. No etymology of the name Maya is known. Anania (1582) mentions the name ‘Maio’, which Lange and Berthoud (1972:350) interpret as Maya (Forkl 1983:181). The Maya (see page Mandara/Wandala) feature significantly in the traditions of origin of the Wandala dynasty, and Vossart (1952:29) is of the opinion that the Maya are of Sao origin. Duisburg (1927:194) claims that the ‘Maja(Maia)’ were partially destroyed and partially absorbed by the Wandala. Mouchet (1947:113) tells us that Maya can be found among the Hurza and Mboku. Forkl (1983:463) informs us that Abbo, Lebeuf and Robinson (1949:483f) had the opportunity to interview, in 1937, some Maya in Doulo (ibid). In the second half of the 16th century the Maya formed a small kingdom in Doulo (next to Mora), which was incorporated into the Wandala state around 1675 (Forkl 1983:179-184). R. Lukas (1972:163) informs us that the Muyang believe that the Maya come originally from Waza, an inselberg about 50 km northeast of Dulo and Mora.

No etymology of the names ‘Wadela’ and Vale or Wele is known to us. Forkl (1983:463) informs us of the Wadela of the inselberg of Doulo. Boutrais (1973:45) mentions the ‘Wadela’ as an example for certain Wandala clans the Wandala themselves refer to as ‘Wandala paiens’. Duisburg (1927:194) mentions the ‘Welle (Walle)’ and says that they occupy the inselberg of Kerawa. He (ibid) says that the ‘Welle’ were originally part of the Wandala, but that they later become an independent ethnic group. Also Mathews (1934:7) refers to the ‘Velle’, and says that they once left Chikide together with the Chinene, following a dispute over land the Chinene had with the Chikide.


The historical ‘Maya-Wandala’ are from Doulo, which is a former Wandala capital next to Mora Town. Doulo was once the capital of the Maya. Clans who claim Maya origin can be found among the Muyang, Hurza and Mboko (see pages Muyang, Hurza and Mboko). It is is unclear whether the Wadela still occupy the inselberg of Doulo. We also don’t know yet whether the Vale still occupy the Kerawa mountain, or whether they have all settled at the foot of the mountain.


No exact demographic data are available at this moment in time. Muller-Kosack (1999) assumes that there are only a couple of hundred or less Wadela and Vale.


Muller-Kosack (1999) is of the opinion that the Wadela and Vale speak wandala. The SIL website Ethnologue mentions ‘Vale’ under ‘Glavda’.

It seems that the the Vale or Wele are the only independent ethnic group, and that the Wadela are actually Wandala and the Maya are today either Muyang, Hurza or Mboko.



Literature on the Maya is very much linked to literature on the Wandala (see page Wandala) and the Sao (see Duisburg, Bradley, Lange, Lebeuf and Migeod). There is hardly any literature dealing with the Wadela and Vale. Especially regarding the Vale/Wele further ethnographic research is necessary.

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