Masa people

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Massa women, 1910.jpg
Photo of Massa women and children. 1913.
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Chad[citation needed]150,000
Christian (30%), Evangelical Christian (15%), Muslim (45%)

Masa people, also called Masana, Banana, or Yagoua are a sub-Saharan ethnic group localized in Cameroon and Chad.

The Masa have an estimated population of 266,000 to 469,000, with the majority residing in Cameroon. Most of them speak Masana. The Masa form part of the Chadic people. [3]



Masa dance in Chad. Photo by Luiclemens

45% of the population is Muslim, and other 45% is Christian. Thirty percent are mainline Catholics or Protestants; another fifteen percent are Evangelical Christians.[1][2] There are often clashes between the different religious groups.[1]

Formalised fighting over livestock or honour[edit]

In many cases there have been pitched battles between Massa from Cameroon and Massa from Chad. These clashes result in many wounded. The battles are often caused by the theft of cows, because livestock are extremely important in social relations and especially in the "marriage exchanges" of the society. An act of adultery can also be a catalyst for Masa groups to go to war. Men who participate in the battles have helmets and clubs. They use sticks and stones as weapons and fight in lines while they are encouraged by women.[4]

In the battle between two groups of Massa, several rules must be met: collect the wounded from combat; do not hit a man on the ground nor one who is wounded. The fighting must end at dusk. Injured people usually are cured by traditional healers, who cure through several techniques which they exercise with local resources. Women who participate in this kind of fight acquire prestige in Massa society.[4]


  1. ^ a b c "Masa People". Joshua Project. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Masa People of Cameroon". People Groups. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  3. ^ People Groups. Retrieved June 03, 2013, to 14: 25 pm.
  4. ^ a b Pitched battle in Gueme between the Massa of Cameroon and Massa of Chad, NCBI, Retrieved June 03, 2013