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Anuak in Ethiopia


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Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
156,000 Anuak Christianity 84.00 % 59.48 %   

Anuak in Ethiopia

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Introduction / History
The Anuak are a river people whose villages are scattered along the banks and rivers of South Sudan and western Ethiopia. The Anuak of South Sudan live in a grassy region that is flat and virtually treeless. During the rainy season, this area becomes flooded, so that much of it becomes swampland with various channels of deep water running through it.

The Anuak speak a Nilotic language known as Anuak. Unlike other Nilotic people in the region whose economy is centered on raising cattle, the Anuak are mainly farmers. They are believed to have a common origin with their northern neighbors, the Shilluk. Also, they share a similar language with their neighbors to the south, the Acholi.

About 150 years ago, the Anuak occupied a large territory stretching north into South Sudan. After numerous invasions, however, the Anuak were forced further south into their present location along the Baro and Pibor Rivers.

What are their lives like?
The Anuak grow most of their own food. When the soil of a village becomes depleted, the Anuak move to a nearby fertile site to farm new ground. There is no cooperation or teamwork between villages in cultivating the land. Consequently, each village remains self-sufficient and isolated from other Anuak villages.

The Anuak are divided into clans. A strong sense of unity exists among clan members since most live in the same village. Intermarriage between clans is common.

Anuak villages are thinly populated. These small, independent villages may be strung out up to twenty miles apart, oftentimes with swamps and rivers between them. Some villages are surrounded by dense reeds and are almost impossible to reach and quite difficult to attack. The sparse distribution of villages, along with the little cooperation that exists between them, makes each village a self-governing political and legal unit. This highly decentralized political system leaves each Anuak village with a strong sense of separate identity.

Every Anuak settlement has a headman who is in charge of village ceremonies and possesses the village drums and ancient Anuak relics. He is given allegiance and respect by the villagers who farm his land and bring him gifts of meat and fish. If the headman loses the villagers' support by being a weak leader, he will be expelled from the village, taking nothing with him but his wives.

When an Anuak dies, he is buried either in a shaft in the center of his homestead, or underground, just a few feet from his hut. His face is covered with animal skins and the grave is enclosed by a fence. Each year when the millet harvest begins and beer is being brewed, a mortuary feast is held in memory of all who have died that year.

What are their beliefs?
Almost all of the Anuak are animists (believing that non-human objects have spirits) who follow their traditional ethnic religion. They believe in an all-powerful spirit named Juok who is regarded as the creator of all things. The Anuak sacrifice animals to Juok for help when someone is sick or when someone wants revenge. The Anuak also pray directly to Juok, instead of using mediator spirits or priests to intercede for them.

The Anuak also practice divination and magic. They call upon the cijor (a type of sorcerer) to put curses on others. Such sorcerers are often used by elderly people who are unable to avenge themselves.

What are their needs?
The full Bible was translated into the Anuak language in 2013, and many have come to Christ. They would greatly benefit from Christian radio broadcasts, and they also need prayer and further evangelistic outreach.

Prayer Points
* Ask the Lord to send forth laborers who will understand the needs of the Anuak.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies presently working among the Anuak.
* Pray that God will give the Anuak believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Pray that qualified linguists will translate Christian materials into the Anuak language.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a vibrant Anuak church for the glory of His name!

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Country: Ethiopia
Continent: Africa
Region: Africa, East and Southern
Persecution Rank:39 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Gambela region: Baro, Alworo, and Gilo rivers and Akobo river right bank; small areas in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ region, Oromia state. Southwest.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
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Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Anuak
People Name General: Anuak
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 100395
Joshua Project People ID: 10354
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 156,000
Population all Countries: 241,000
Least-Reached: No
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
People Cluster: Nilotic
People Name General: Anuak
Ethnic Code: NAB62c
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Anuak (156,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): anu    Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect:Opëno
Dialect Code:7037
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Christianity
Religion Sub-division:Protestant
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity84.00 %(Evangelical: 59.48 %)
Ethnic Religions16.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant100.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Evangelicals have a significant presence.
Least-Reached: No
GSEC Status:Level 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 1956-2000
New Testament:
Complete Bible: 2013
Possible Bible Sources: Forum of Bible Agencies
 World Bible Finder
 World Christian Resource Directory
 Gospel Go
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio RecordingsOnline Scripture (Talking Bibles)
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Anuak
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Anuak in Ethiopia

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Nilotic     Africa, East and Southern    
      Anuak Ethiopia    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Anuak in Ethiopia          
      Religion Language  
      Christianity     Anuak  
    All Religions                              

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