The Muktele (Cameroon)

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Moisel refers to the ‘Mochtal’ (Muketele) on his map (1912-13). Lembezat (1950:85) refers to the small amount of information available on the ‘Muktale’ (Muktele). Juillerat (1971:58)), who conducted the first ethnographic study on the Muktele, is of the opinion that a small valley by the name ‘Mouktele’ is at the origin of the ethnic name Muktele. ‘Lalagl’, who is one of the founding ancestors of the Muktele, settled there at his arrival because the valley was remote, had fertile soils and was rich in water (ibid). The Muktele are also referred to as Matal or Mahtal.



Muktele land is found on the northern end of the plateau of the ‘central-massif’ in the east of the Northern Mandaras. Their land is dominated by the Mont Gouaza (1121m) and the Mont Gamdegue (1012m) west of Tala Mokolo. Their neighbours are the Podokwa in the northeast, the Uldeme in the west, the Mada in the southwest, the Zulgo and Mineo in the south and the Mafa and Mandara in the west. The two Muktele cantons, Baldama and Zouelva, are part of the arrondissement Mora, departement Mayo Sava.


Hallaire & Barral (1967:56) count 9,900 Muktele, whereas Hallaire (1991:26) speaks of 15,312 inhabitants of the two cantons Baldama and Zouelva. Boulet et al (1984:119) count 10,000 Muktele. SIL (1989) speaks of 18,000 Muktele. According to Hallaire’s map (1991:fig5) the population density in Mukele land is between 100 to 139 and 140 plus inhabitants per square km.


Barreteau refers to matal (Muktele) as a single dialect/language of mafa-northwest. Matal seems to be a unique Mafa dialect which cannot be understood by any other speakers of Mafa dialects. An interesting question is how close mafa-northwest (matal) is to mafa (mafa-west, mafa-centre and mafa-east). SIL classifies matal as a dialect of Biu-Mandara A.5.


Juillerat (1971:12,51ff) refers to the various origins of the Muktele clans and lineages. Before the arrival of the kingroups which later formed the Muktele, six autochthonous clans/lineages lived there already, among them the Plata. The Plata have now left to live with the Uldeme (see also page Uldeme). Most Muktele kingroups claim to have come from ‘Majewi’, which is somewhere near Mokolo in Mafa land of today (ibid:56). Juillerat (ibid) assumes that the Muktele immigrated from Mejewi more than 200 years ago. The Muktele who originate from Majewi bury their dead facing the direction of their place of origin (ibid). Many Mafa lineages who claim Muktele origin can be found today in the Mafa area west of Koza (Muller-Kosack 1987:55ff: see also 1997, index vol 2). They are the rainmakers of the Mafa (with the chief rainmaker who lives in Mudukwa) and they refer to themselves as Gosla/Golda or Dawta. Other local groups of the Muktele trace their origins back to the Podokwa, Glavda, Zulgo, Mada, Mozogo and Waza (Juillerat 1971:59).

Most important ethnographic literature on the Muktele is Juillerat’s monograph from 1971 (See also Juillerat 1968, 1970, 1981). He gives a very detailed analysis of the social and territorial organisation of the Muktele. It seems that the Muktele immigrated into their present land only about 200 years ago. Considering the history of the shaping of the Mafa (see page Mafa) as a fairly recent event, it is well possible that the Muktele clans of Majewi origin moved out of Mafa land when the Mafa clans moved in, and that those who remained become powerful rainmakers (Muller-Kosack 1999). What contradicts such a hypothesis is that the Mafa rainmakers of Muktele origin claim to originate from Gosla/Golda, which is a major massif in Muktele of today (ibid). Linguistic writing on matal is by Kammler (1971).


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