The Gavar & Buwal



Zimmermann (1906) mentions ‘Gauar (Fulla)’ as the most important intersection between Madagali and Maroua. Strumpell (1922-23) mentions the ‘Gauar’ (Gavar) as an ethnic group who occupy the mountains northeast of the Fulbe settlement ‘Gouar’. Haillaire (1991:26) refes to the Buwal as ‘Galdala’ or ‘Bual’. Barreteau (1984:168) refers to the Buwal as ‘Gadala’ and to the Gavar also as ‘Gawar’ or ‘Kortchi’. It remains unclear whether ‘Buwal’ is an ethnonym or the name of a dialect spoken by the Galdala or Gadala. ‘Kortchi’ and ‘Gawar’ are place names. Van Beek (1987:ix) puts ‘Kortchi’ as a Kapsiki settlement on his map. Gawar is the name of a Fulbe lamidat.


The Gavar and Buwal or Gadala/Galdala are the eastern neighours of the Kapsiki, and the southern neighbours of the so-called Bulahay groups. The Buwal are situated in canton Matakam-South, arrondissement Mokolo. According to Boutrais language map (1984:175) the Gavar (Kortchi) are the by far larger group, whereas the Buwal (Galdala) appear as a very small group southeast of Cuvok. The southern neigbours of the Gavar are the Hina, which Muller-Kosack identifies already as an ethnic group of the Southern Mandaras. Most important settlement is Gawar (see also page Fulbe).


Haillaire (1991:26) speaks of 2,135 Galdala (Buwal). SIL (1992) count 5,000 Gavar, and 5,000 or fewer Buwal (ALCAM 1983).


According to Barreteau (1984:168) buwal (gadala) and gavar (kortchi) are two close dialects classified together as daba-north. Daba-south consists of hina and daba. SIL classifies ‘Gavar’ and ‘Buwal’ together with ‘Daba’, ‘Mbedam’ and ‘Mina’ (Hina?).


Zimmermann (1906) mentions the ‘pagans of Gauar’ fighting the ‘Fulla’ (Fulbe), and Strumpell (ibid) identifies the ‘Gouar’ (Gavar) as an ethnic group, and refers to them as the norhern neighbours of the Hina. However, it remains unclear whether the Buwal must be seen as a sub-group of the Gavar or wheher they form an ethnic group on their own. Moisel’s map of 1912-13 identifies a Gadala massif (south of Mohour) and a Gadala river. The map also identifies the ‘Gauar’ (Gavar) as living on the ‘Hossere Gauar’ (meaning Gauar massif) as well as the Fulbe settlement Gauar southeast of the ‘Hossere Gauar’. The SIL website Ethnologue informs us that Gavar is spoken around the town Gawar (canton Mogode, arrondissement Mokolo)., According to SIL one group of ‘Gavar Hossere’ live among the ‘Gavar- Fulbe’, and another in relative isolation in the mountains around ‘Kortchi village. SIL reports that Gavar can understand Buwal, but that they see them as being different from them. According to SIL, the ‘Buwal (Bual, Gadala)’ live around Gadala.


Zimmermann (1906), Moisel (1912-13) and Strumpell (1922-23) are the first who mention the Gavar (Gauar) as an ethnic group, but no ethnographic survey on where they came from and how they see themselves in relation to their neighbours has been conducted so far. However, Mouchet’s (1966) study of the Daba needs to be mentioned here, as well as van Beek’s references to the founders of ‘Kortchi’ (Gavar) as being of western origin (1981:115). There seem to be even less ethnographic references on the Buwal or Gadala/Galdala. Lavernge (1944:19f) refers to a place name ‘Gadala’, and of course, in the context of the history of Fulbe, to the ‘plain of Gaouar’, and ‘Emir Laoual’ who arrived in person at ‘Gaouar’ around 1850. Strumpell (1912:64f) refers to ‘Gauar’ (Gawar) in the context of the history of ‘Adamaua’ (Adamawa), saying that Adama disciplined the ‘pagan of Gauar’. Mohammadou (1988) has published in great detail on the history of the Fulbe lamidats in the Northern Mandaras (including Gawar).