Vashala Charles

  • University of MaiduguriScholarship Holder

Contact Info:



Examination of the Factors that Sustain the Cultural Caste System Among the Higgi Kamwe of Michika Local Government Area, Adamawa State

In the Kamwe community of Michika Local Government Area (LGA), caste system does exist as the race is broadly classified into ‘Melie and Ka-ligyi’. The Kamwe people and language are sometimes called Higgi. Kamwe elders say “Higgi” is a derogatory word and name given to the Kamwe by their neighbours the Margi, that literally means “grasshopper” to mock the Kamwe people. Majority of the Kamwe people despise the derogatory name Higgi. The Margi used the term higgi to show the contempt they have for the Kamwe because of the Kamwe women’s huge appetite for grasshopper. The Margi first called the Kamwe people “Higgi” in 1924. In Nigeria about 80 percent of Kamwe are found in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Nigeria. A substantial number of them are also found in the local government areas of Mubi North, Hong, Gombi, Song and Madagali in Adamawa State. The Kamwe people are also found in Borno State, especially in Askira/Uba and Gwoza local government areas (Roger, 2019).
The Milie people are the farmers while the Ka-Ligyi are the blacksmiths. The Ka-Ligyi in Michika LGA are sometimes called Mekeri which is a Hausa term for blacksmith. The Ka-Ligyi’s seems to play some important roles in the community. They engage in activities which includes calabash decoration, playing music at wedding ceremonies, festivals, digging graves, washing dead bodies, carving of sculptures for religious purposes and the creation of weapons. Marriage cannot take place between the Melie and the Ka-ligyi i.e, a Melie individual cannot marry the Ka-ligyi. The Melie people cannot eat and drink anything from the plate, cup or bottle used by the Ka-ligyi.
Despite the roles the Ka-ligyi’s seems to play in the community, they are considered to be at the bottom of the caste and treated as second class citizens of the land. Marriage cannot take place between the Melie and the Ka-ligyi, the Melie people can neither drink nor eat anything from the same cup or plate/dish with a Ka-ligyi. The roles performed by the Ka-ligyi are quite important in maintaining the social fabrics of the Kamwe community. Why then is it that the Ka-ligyi are considered to be at the bottom of the Kamwe caste system? This study seeks to look into the reasons why the Ka-ligyi from the cultural perspective of the Kamwe people are at the bottom of the caste system.

In view of the above, the study focusses on finding answers to the following research questions:

  • What is the position of Ka-Ligyi in the Kamwe caste system?
  • Why do the Melie’s consider the Ka-ligyi’s as low class citizen despite the role they seem to play in the community?
  • What is the present situation of the Kamwe caste system compared to the past?

The study will deploy qualitative research method. Focused Group Discussions, Interviews and participant observation will be used to collect data. Primary and secondary sources will be used, also recording devices will be used to aid the data collection process.
This research will mainly be conducted among the Kamwe people living in Michika Main Town. The Kamwe from the surrounding towns and villages are not part of this study.



Vashala Charles is an M. A. scholarship holder at the Centre for the Study and Promotion of Cultural Sustainability, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. He is a dedicated researcher and has so much interest in culture. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Geography, from the University of Maiduguri, with specialization in Cultural Geography. With his passion for Cultural Geography, He is currently working as a Research Fellow at the Cultural Sustainability in Centre for the Study and Promotion of Cultural Sustainability, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. Vashala Charles is also focused at encouraging his own ethnic group’s cultural performances. His research is related to SDG goal 10 which is “reduced inequality” and goal 16 “peace, justice and strong institutions”. His study will provide information on the position of the Ka-ligyi’s in the caste system of the Kamwe in Michika LGA of Adamawa state. His research will shed light on how the Kamwe caste system works. His research will also be of significant importance to government and scholars in terms of implementation of government policies.