Among the Koma men of Adamawa, in Northern Nigeria, there is a habit of sharing their wives with friends and visitors. Interestingly, their women hated putting on clothes than the men, who are more receptive to it. Instead, Koma women put on leaves to cover their bodies.
The Koma people are a relatively primitive hill-dwelling tribe in the Atlantika Mountains of Adamawa, North-East Nigeria, which shares a boundary with Southern Cameroon.
These hill-dwellers are spread through the south of these mountains which include many on the Cameroonian side.
While there are twenty-one Koma villages in the Cameroonian side of the Alantika Mountains, there are seventeen villages on the Nigerian side.
In 1961, a year after Nigeria’s independence, the Koma people became recognised as Nigerian citizens, along with the old provinces of Northern Cameroon.
As of today, Koma is part of the seven districts of Jada Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
With an estimated 61,000 speakers, the Koma have their own language, which is also known as Koma. The language is a member of the Niger–Congo family.
The Koma people can be identified as three main groups. They are:
· The hill-dwelling Beya and Ndamti,
· The Vomni and,
· Verre lowlanders.
They are fiercely loyal to their traditional culture as the men wear loincloths while the women wear fresh leaves. The Koma men much more accepted the wearing of modern clothes than the women who are surprisingly averse to it.
Among the Koma tribe, inheritance lies in the maternal lineage and as a mark of acceptance, loyalty and friendship, a Koma man may share his wife with his friends, especially visitors.
Many of them engage in rearing of animals and they have a modest population of about 400 people per village.
Also, giving birth to twins among the Koma people is regarded as evil as these twins are considered an abomination and are buried alive with the women who are unfortunate of being their mothers.
This despicable practice of the killing of twins is still rampant among the Koma people who dwell in the out-of-the-way settlements on the hills but the ancient practice has been aborted among those who dwell in the lowlands.
As I mentioned earlier that the Koma people are fiercely loyal to their traditions, they still use mangul, a traditional salt which is produced from the hills, for cooking. They also don’t use matches to make their fire, but rub stones together to ignite the fire for their cooking or warmth.
The Koma people are not atheists as they do believe in the existence of a supreme being. They called it Zum or Nu. They also use these words for the sun.
The Koma people also recognise the potency of local deities which they can appeal to for good health, fertility, and vitality.
Also, for a system of worship, each household has a shrine which is under the charge of a man where they carry out their rituals.
Before they were discovered by a corps member of Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps in 1986, the Koma people have been hiding in their habitats for ages.
As a matter of fact, the Alantika mountains on which the Koma people reside were named so, in reference to the Kanuri language which means, “Allah hasn’t yet arrived.” This is because they still stick to their traditional beliefs despite being surrounded by Muslims who live in the Faro Valley close to them.