The Hide or Tur
(Nigeria and Cameroon)
First mentioning of ‘Turu’ but not of Hide is on Moisel’s map (1912-13). Meek (1931,I:320ff) speaks of the ‘Tur’, but not of the Hide. First mentioning of ‘Hide’ appears in Lavergne (1944:23). Also Lembezat (1950:82) mentions the ‘Hide’. Both (Lavernge and Lembezat) mention a group called ‘Ndare’. Muller-Kosack (1997:55) assumes that ‘Ndare’ refers to the ‘Gra’ or ‘Ngra’ (see also page Dughwede: ‘Dughwede-Mbra’), which is another name for Hide or Tur. Eguchi (1971:195) explains that the ‘hide’ call themselves ‘xde’, but that the Fulbe would refer to them as ‘gra’, which means friend as well as ‘Man’ in general in xde (ibid:204). This is confirmed by Muller-Kosack (fieldnotes 1996). No etymology for Hide or Tur/Turu is known so far. It seems that Hide or ‘xde’ is more commonly used in French, while Tur is more commonly used in English. The groups of the Gwoza Hills often refer to Tur as a place name ‘Fitire’ (Mathews 1934).
The Hide or Tur occupy mainly the eastern slopes of the Turu mountains. Turu is also the name of a major market place on the heights of Turu next to the international boundary running north to south at about 1200m. The majority of the Hide/Tur live in Cameroon. The eastern neigbours of the Hide/Tur are the Mafa. Their northern neighbours are the Gvoko, and their southern neighbours are the Vizik and Mabas. Their western neighbours are the Waga and Vemgo, who have now descended to the western plains (north of Madagali). An increasing number of Mafa (originating from Mudukwa in Cameroon) now settle on the Waga plateau (in Nigeria to the west of Turu).Turu of Nigeria belongs to the Madagali Local Government Area (Adamawa State), while Hide (Tur) of Cameroon belongs to Canton Matakam-Sud, Arrondissement Mokolo.
Boulet et al (1984:119) speak of 5,400 Hide, while Hallaire (1991:26) counts 8,274 (both presumably only for the Cameroonian side). The SIL website ethnologue speaks of 9,000 ‘Hedi’ in Nigeria (1992) and 10,000 (1982) for all countries. Muller-Kosack (1999) is of the opinion that the SIL estimate is presented the wrong way around, and that 9,000 for Cameroon and 1,000 for Nigeria is more realistic. According to Haillaire (1991:fig5) the population density in the Hide area is between 100 and 139 inhabitants per sq/km.
Barreteau (1984:167) classifies ‘xdi’, together with gvoko and mabas, under wandala-west of Central Chadic. SIL classifies ‘Hedi’ as Lamang dialect of Biu-Mandara (Central Chadic). According to SIL the intelligibility of Mabas is 51%, of Lamang 48%, and of Gvoko 35%. The history of linking ‘Turu/Hde’ with Lamang goes back to Wolff who groups Turu with his so-called Lamang group, which he sees as an independent sub-group of Biu-Mandara (1974:9).
Muller-Kosack (fieldnotes 1996) informs us that the ‘Hide-Ngra’ consider them- selves closely related to the Gvoko (Gvoko-Ngra). The Hide-Ngra came originally from ‘Ghwa Gula’ (mountain of Gulak), from where they moved to ‘Ghwa Gawa’. The name ‘Ngra’ (or ‘Gra’ or even ‘Mbra’) is not the name of an ancestor, but only refers to their mythological descent from a first Man (Hide-Ngra or Gvoko-Ngra, or Dughwede-Ngra, etc). Like the Dughwede or Govko, the Hide consider themselves as an independent ethnic group of montagnards, but at the same time they feel themselves ethnically much closer related to the Gvoko, than e.g. to the Mafa. Muller-Kosack (fieldnotes 1987) informs us further that ‘Matsak’, the oldest known ancestor of Hide, had a son of the name Gulo, who had, among many other sons, also a son of the name ‘Margi’. According to this tradition ‘Matsak’ lived a long time ago in the western plains, but due to ethnic conflict he moved to the mountain of ‘Gulo’ (Margi-Gulak, see page Margi). From the mountain ‘Gulo’ he moved to Hide of today.
No ethnography of the Hide has been written so far. There are some linguistic writings (especially Eguchi), but also by Wolff and more recently by Langermann for SIL, the latter exploring further the proposed linguistic link between Lamang and Hide. Meek is the first who refers ethnographically, but also linguistically, to the Hide. Muller-Kosack as well as N. David & Sterner possess fieldnotes on the Hide. Sinawa has produced an MS (University of Maiduguri) on Hide sorcery traditions.