The Distinctive Culture of Koma People

Koma People

As a way of introduction, the settlement called Koma is a relatively primitive hill-dwelling ethnic group in Adamawa State of Nigeria in the Alantika Mountains. The people share a border with Southern Cameroon. These hill-dwellers are spread through mountains on the Cameroun side. There are Twenty-one (21) Koma villages on the Cameroonian side of the Alantika Mountains and Seventeen (17) villages on the Nigerian side.

Today, Koma is part of the seven districts of Jada local government in Adamawa State. They were officially recognized as Nigerians in 1961, a year after independence. The hill (popularly known as Koma Hills) was discovered in 1986 by a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member.

They have their own language, known as ‘Koma’ with an estimated Sixty-one thousand (61,000) speakers. The people are divided into three predominant groups: the hill-dwelling Beya and Ndamti, the Vomni and Verre lowlanders.

One interesting and distinctive culture of the people is their appearance. While the men wear scanty clothing, the women wear fresh leaves around their waist and to date, they practice nudity.  The Koma people are yet to be weaned of some of the primitive ways as there still exist a defiant few among this mountain-dwelling tribe who strut around naked or near-naked in broad daylight. Others even go to the farm or come to their markets in their state of semi-nudity. A Koma man may share his wife with friends, especially visitors. As a mark of acceptance and friendship. They are cut off from the rest of the Nigerian societies in terms of modern civilization. 

Until recently, twin birth was regarded as evil, and twins were considered as evil so much so that multiple birth babies used to be buried alive with the women who had the ‘misfortune’ of being their mothers. Remarkably, the obnoxious practice of twin killing is out of vogue among Komas who dwell on the plains. Sadly, those who dwell on the out-of-the-way settlements of the hills, still practice this barbaric act unabated.

One funny albeit irritating culture is their men engaging in extended farting sessions on the occasion of public dancing ceremonies. They train with a master and at the end of the training, they are capable of farting for hours on end. When the anus area becomes irritated from prolonged flatulence, it is soothed with a healing powder. The tradition is thought to originate in mockery of puritanical Muslims, who used to enslave Komas and drove them to move their habitat into the hilly areas they now occupy. 

Lately, missionaries were able to access the people and that has brought about civilization and acceptance to other faiths. They practice the three major religions in Nigeria; 60% of them are Christians, 30% traditionalists and 20% Muslims.

Commendable among the Koma is the high respect for their kings, chiefs, elders and the government agents, but would never trade their beliefs, culture and tradition for anything, not even money or favour. They practice polygamy and polyandry. They are also very friendly and hospitable.


ThankGod E.Airiohuodion


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