The Virtual Institute of Mambila Studies

The Virtual Institute of Mambila Studies seeks to collate and connect the different research and researchers with an interest in the Mambila people of the Nigeria - Cameroon borderland and their neighbours; their languages and the area in which they live. We take a broad view of Mambila, including other groups speaking related languages such as Kwanja, Vute, Wawa, Nizaa, Njerep (3 speakers at last count!) Twendi (35 speakers), Tep, and others. Our research is primarily of an anthropological and linguistic nature; abstracts or full texts of papers are available at the site. The currently available work includes reports on Zeitlyn's research on kinship and language and his annotated version of Meek's early ethnological work in the region, and Connell's comparative linguistic research and work on tone realization in Mambila, as well as a full bibliography of anthropological, linguistic, and related research on Mambila. VIMS was established by David Zeitlyn (anthropology) and Bruce Connell (linguistics). We would welcome your comments addresses below.

The following inline image acts as a link to photographs of the "Physical Institute of Mambila Studies" in Somié, Cameroon which has been the base for much of this research.

March 2020 Book on Mambila Divination. The image below links to the publishers website which includes a preview

A 2023 book review concludes that this is "essential for all social scientists studying divination."

More information about this book on a separate page

Information about a 2022 book by David Zeitlyn. Mainly theory but also some ethnography about Nggwun in Somié.

Page for ADECANSO Association pour le Développement du Canton du Somié

The work of a cooperative group doing reforestation work in the area around Somié: REFOCASO

Photos from Atta 1980s Some of Riek van Koevorden's photos from Atta taken when working there as a lay missionary in the early 1980s.

Photos taken by Stuart Beare 1960/ 1961 when he was working on the second Plebiscite in what was then the Northern Cameroons, on the Mambila Plateau and in Chamba area.

Some videos shot around Somié in December 2013. These include communal work to make a new road and dancing at the Protestant Church Harvest festival.

At last a solution to all the problems planning Mambila ritual: A calendar showing the traditional ten day week and the phases of the moon

Online fulltext now available. With the permission of the publisher we now include the pdf of the following publication:
David Zeitlyn N. Mial & C. Mbe, Trois Etudes sur les Mambila de Somié, Cameroun, Groupe de Recherches sur l'Afrique Francophone, Boston, Mass., 2000. (download size 4.7 MB)

Obituary for Degah Francois by Jonas GNEMABE

Some Somié produced videos
"Women's sua in Somié 2012" now available online.
Video of Nggwun 2011 and a track from a 2014 album by Jean-Pierre Martino, released 2013. Placed online with the permission of the artist.

The Cameroon National Anthem in Mambila

Sua bo veh a Somié 2016 un film de DJ Ireno The dance of women's sua in Somié village Cameroon in 2016 La danse des femmes au Somié, Cameroun

The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Archives now in Mambila

Historical Sources

Linguistic Research

Online appendices to 'The Rhetoric of Kinship: "Doing kinship" - some Mambila cases'. 2021. In Rhetoric in Social Relations, 98-115 edited by J. Abbink and Shauna LaTosky. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

2006-2009 Documentation of endangered languages and cultures in the Nigeria-Cameroon borderland

A Kent Anthropology MSc in Ethnobotany, 2009 "Sharing Knowledge Intra-cultural variation of ethnobotanical knowledge and the factors that pattern it in a Mambila community in the Cameroon-Nigeria borderland"

A diary written during fieldwork in late 2003-early 2004
A diary written during fieldwork in late 2008 Note this was only added in April 2016.

Cameroonian Studio Photography

I have been undertaking research with several Cameroonian Studio Photographers (some covering Mambila villages but others in the Bamiléké area)

Links to various different photography pages can be found here .

2003/4 Evans Pritchard Lectures

In autumn 2003 David Zeitlyn gave the 2003/4 Evans Pritchard Lectures, All Souls College, Oxford: Sample of One: The life of Diko Madeleine and the History of Somié in the Twentieth Century Sound Recordings and background material is available online from the Diko Web pages

Words and Processes in Mambila Kinship

Monograph published in 2005. Words and Processes in Mambila Kinship: the Theoretical Importance of the Complexity of Everyday Life.


Preface ix
Part One
Chapter One: Introduction 3
Chapter Two: Reconstructing Kinship: The Pragmatics of Kin Talk 13
Chapter Three: The Implicatures of Everyday Life: Mambila Social Deixis 39
Chapter Four: Asking about People, Not about Kin Terms 57
Chapter Five: Translation, Anthropology, Kinship 85
Chapter Six: The Ethnography of a Mambila Conversation 103
Chapter Seven: A Conversation in Somie 115
Part Two
Chapter Eight: Person Referring Expressions in Natural Conversation 155
Chapter Nine: Summing up Kin Talk 183
Chapter Ten: Conclusions 207
Appendix 211
Bibliography 217
Index 237
With permission of the publisher the introductory chapter is available to download
This has been reviewed in the following places:
Cuvelier, Jeroen. 2007. Social Anthropology 15 (2):269-270. doi: 10.1111/j.0964-0282.2007.00009_19.x.
Barry, Laurent. 2007. Anthropos 102 (1):305-7.

Other researchers known to be working on Mambila and related groups

Other researchers who have worked on Mambila and related groups

Some research projects currently underway or completed

Other material on Mambila

Data on Mambila can be found at the following locations:

Reviews of this book may be found in the following sources:

  1. The journal Anthropos vol. 90 pp.657-8 by Bertrand Masquelier. With the kind permission of the editor, the text of this review is now available.
  2. The Journal of the Royal Anthroplogical Institute Vol 2 No. 2 pp. 398-9 June 1996 by Anthony D. Buckley. With the kind permission of the RAI, the text of this review is also available.
  3. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft Band 146 - Heft 2 1996 pp 728 by Jorg Adelberger
    An English translation of this review is also available
  4. International Journal of African Historical Studies 30(1): 161-162 (1997) by P. Dekar.
  5. Journal of Religion in AfricaXXVIII(1): 115-7 N. Lovell:

Other related material

Work on Yamba

Full text of a monograph on Yamba religion: "Affliction and Moral Order: Conversations in Yambaland" by Hermann Gufler MHM First published 2003
in the CSAC Monographs Series, CSAC, Uninversity of Kent, UK

Other work on Yamba is listed in the Yamba online bibliography

Video by Samuel Finlak, photographer based in Atta:
View here or download from the following link

Intronisation de Chef du Village de Saah S.M. Mbebon Adamou. 7th Jan 2017 on Vimeo.
Camera Samuel Photo

Links to other related sites:

Send Email to Bruce Connell.

Send Email to David Zeitlyn

Excursions in Realist Anthropology

Published in 2014, a book written by David Zeitlyn and Roger Just: Excursions in Realist Anthropology. A Merological Approach
ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-6403-9 ISBN-10: 1-4438-6403-X
A sample chapter is online at

Reviewed in JASO 2016 p120-123
Reviewed by Thorgeir Storesund Kolshus in Social Analysis 61 (3) 2017

Special issue of History and Anthropology on Archives and Futures

More information about David Zeitlyn,

Bibliography of David Zeitlyn NB this is no longer updated. For recent publications see the Oxford webpage above

Professor of Social Anthropology (research)

Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology,
School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography,
51 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PE, UK

Accessibility Statement

Created July 1995, last modified 13 April 2024

Link to David Zeitlyn Personal webpages
these contain material from Jonathan Zeitlyn, an early article by Bernard Benedict Zeitlyn, a scanned photo album from Rugeley and images of a digitally encoded clay tablet. They did have Alice Zeitlyn's 1988 thesis "MATURE STUDENTS in HIGHER EDUCATION: the Career of a Cohort of Mature Students in a Public Sector Institution" but this is now archived at ARRO so the duplicate has been removed.