Mafulu - Orientation

Identification. Mafulu is the name, based on the pronunciation used by the neighboring Kunimaipa speakers, for the people of Mambule, their nearest community of Fuyuge speakers. The Sacred Heart missionaries generalized Mafulu to include all of the Fuyuge-speaking inhabitants of the Auga, Vanapa, and Dilava river valleys. It is now also applied to People living in the Chirima Valley. Mafulu who have moved to Port Moresby since World War II are often identified, together with the Tauade from the neighboring valleys, as Goilala.

Location. The Mafulu inhabit the Goilala Subdistrict in the Central Province of Papua New Guinea, at about 8°30′ S and 147° E. Communities are located in the sparsely populated Auga, Vanapa, Dilava, and Chirima river valleys, inland from Yule Island, north of Port Moresby, and south of Mount Albert Edward in the Wharton Range of the central cordillera. Although they are separated from the coast by steep gorges, the high (1,000-meter) mountainous foothills in which they live have more gentle ridges, broad forested Valleys, and occasional expanses of kunai grass. Temperatures in the Goilala Subdistrict range between 7° C and 24° C. The average rainfall for the Subdistrict is 262 centimeters per year. The dry season runs from June through October and early November. The rainy season begins in late November or December and lasts until May, with the heaviest rains in January, February, and March.

Demography. There are no reliable early population estimates. According to the 1966 census, there are approximately 14,000 Mafulu in the Goilala Subdistrict.

Linguistic Affiliation. Fuyuge, the language spoken by the Mafulu, is the largest member of the Goilalan Family of the Trans-New Guinea Phylum of Papuan (Non-Austronesian) languages. Fuyuge has appeared in the linguistic literature as Fuyughé and Fujuge, Asiba, Chirima, Gomali, Kambisa, Karukaru, Korona, Mafulu, Mambule, Neneba, Ononge (Onunge), Sikube, Sirima, Tauada, and Vovoi. Fuyuge is quite divergent from the other two members of the language family, sharing only 27 percent of its vocabulary with Tauade and 28 percent with Kunimaipa. The dialects of Fuyuge differ considerably from valley to valley. Some vernacular-language religious materials were produced by the Sacred Heart Mission.

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