The Mambila tribe, in so far as the British Cameroons is concerned, numbers about 13,000 people [1]and occupies the major part of the plateau west of Banyo, which is known as the Mambila Plateau. The term "plateau" is hardly suitable, as it is anything but flat. It is hilly country with deep gullies, and the traveller is constantly passing from one panoramic view to another. According to Captain Izard, who has surveyed the district, the plateau has a mean level of about 5,000 feet above the sea. But most of the villages are situated on hills which must be at least 6,000 feet above sea level, and the highest hills probably attain an altitude of 9,000 feet. The Mambila Plateau presents a distinct contrast in appearance to the Bauchi Plateau in that it is completely covered with soil, outcrops of granite occurring only at long intervals of travelling. The subsoil is of a heavy broken-down laterite type, and in certain areas is composed of chalk. The infertility of the soil forces the natives to use fertilizing agents in the form of leguminous pigeon-pea plants [Notes1] specially cultivated for the purpose. But the plateau is eminently suitable for grazing cattle, and on this account, and also on account of the absence of noxious flies, is well patronized by the cattle-owning Fulani. It is covered with bracken, and there is a great variety of flowers, including orchids. There is a complete absence of trees, [Notes2] except in the gullies, and the dearth of firewood entails great hardship on the inhabitants, who have not yet become accustomed to the use of clothing. The Mambila men wear a loin covering of cloth; the women are completely nude. Strong winds prevail throughout the day, and the rainy season lasts from the middle of March until close on the end of December. [Notes3] The severity of the climate has taught the Mambila peoples, primitive as they are, to evolve a technique of house-building which is superior to anything seen in the Northern Provinces of Nigeria.

The term Mambila is stated generally to have been conferred by the Fulani. [Notes4] But this can hardly be accepted. The Mambila [2]


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