Settlement Concentration and Dispersal Among the Kofyar
Frontier farms were arranged along roads and paths in contrast to the homeland settlements which were scattered irregularly across the landscape and connected by a network of paths. Since mid-century, Kofyar farmers have been moving from their relatively crowded homeland and establishing farms in the Benue Valley, especially in the broad stretches of savanna between the Goemai towns, such as Lafia and Shendam, on the Namu Plains. Company residents cite religion as the cause behind the settlement change. The agricultural system of the Kofyar is critical to the evolution of settlement patterns. The frontier and homeland settlement patterns also differ in numerous respects, including size and shape of farm, relationship of residences to roads, and abandonment practices. Some areas of the Namu frontier have seen abandonment rather than intensification. The chapter considers three factors that promote concentration: coercion and defense, labor pooling, and central functions.