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The Butt N@k£d Tribe In Nigeria That Bury Twins And Their Mothers Alive.
When the Koma people were recognised as Nigerians in 1961, along with the old provinces of northern Cameroon, many were said to have been hiding in their mountainous habitat for a very long period of time.
They occupy the Alantika Mountains in northern Adamawa State in Nigeria and in Northern Cameroon at the southwestern side (Faro National Park) of the border at Adamawa State.
Scores of Nigerians, after the discovery, described the Koma people as primitive and pagan, and even named the mountain on which they reside as Alantika which in Kanuri language means “Allah hasn’t yet arrived.”
This is because the Koma people still hold on to their ancient traditions and other religious practices despite being surrounded by Islamic societies.
What perhaps shocked everyone was the discovery that among the Komas, a twin birth is regarded as evil, and twins are considered abominable to the extent- that until recently- babies of multiple births used to be buried alive with the women who gave birth to them.
Though this act of twins killing is no more practised among Komas who dwell on the plains, historical accounts suggest that the ancient practice is still happening in some settlements on the hills.
Here’s what else you need to know about Koma, a settlement having an average population of about 400 people per village.
The large population of Koma, located in the foothill and plains of the Alantika or Adamawa mountains, has a unique history influenced by the response to the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, as well as various colonization policies adopted from 1900-1960.
“German occupation of the area was short-lived and rather ineffective. The Fulani overlords (the Lamidos) continued to rule the Koma and extort taxes from them by organised raids to the hills.
With the conclusion of the first World War, the Germans renounced their claims to the Cameroons in favour of the Allied Powers. As a result, the Adamawa area, which includes the Koma, was placed under British Mandate.
“A year after Nigeria’s independence in 1961, as a result of a plebiscite the Koma became recognised as Nigerians along with the old Adamawa/Saduana provinces of the Northern,” according to accounts on trip down memory lane.
Currently, the Koma-Vommi District is one of the seven districts in the Ganye local government area, with headquarters at Nassarawo in the plains, where the District Head of Koma people is based.
Divided into three main groups: the hill-dwelling Beya and Ndamti, the Vomni and the Verre lowlanders, the Koma have their own language, known as Koma, with an estimated 61,000 speakers.
Wear leaves and share spouses with friends
Though young people and some men in resettled areas wear modern clothes, a large percentage of Koma still clad in their traditional dress.
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Women use leaves to cover their private parts while men wear loincloths and animal skins with many children butt-naked.
Interestingly, a Koma man may share his wife with friends, as a form of acceptance.
When cooking, the Koma still use traditional salt (Mangul) produced from the hills and a special oil produced via a natural technology not common to other ethnic groups in its environs.
As part of their custom, inheritance is in the maternal lineage. When a woman dies, her daughters inherit her farm, livestock, utensils, beads, and other working tools.
Any form of nut products are regarded as a woman’s exclusive property, while bows and arrows belong to the first son of the deceased male.
Religion and Marriage
The Koma people believe in the existence of a supreme being called Zum or Nu, otherwise meaning the sun. The neighbouring Chamba also use the same word Su for the sun, as well as for Almighty God.
The Koma also have local deities that they appeal to known as Kene when faced with challenges in health, vitality and fertility. Each household has its Ken.
As part of promoting their cultural and ethnic identities, marriage amongst the Koma is endogamous and polygynous, though levirate is also allowed.
It is documented that, between the ages of 10 and l4, children undergo puberty rituals which involve circumcision for boys and extraction of teeth for girls. These are to prepare them for marriage and to show a sign of maturity.
Women have their own farms separate from men
The occupation of the Koma people is around farming, hunting and gathering. Apart from hunting, both men and women engage in weeding and gathering as well as cultivation.
Though women often have their own farms separate from the men, both sexes sometimes help each other on their respective farms. Usually, younger children take care of the babies at home in the hills while their parents go to the valleys and plains to tend their farms.
Since markets do not exist in the hills, the Koma women usually bring their produce such as millets, guinea corn, and tobacco down for sale, particularly to the lowland-markets of Betti, Choncha and Karlahi. They then use the proceeds to buy commodities they need for their communities.
Farting during festivals
According to a documentary by Alain Baptizet, Koma medicine men engage in extended farting sessions during public dancing ceremonies.
They train with a master and fart for hours on end. When the anus area becomes irritated from prolonged flatulence, it is soothed with a healing powder, according to sources.
The practice is believed to have come from the mockery of puritanical Muslims, who used to enslave Komas and drove them to the hilly areas where they occupy now.
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