Introduction / History The Banga are located in the Sokoto Province of Nigeria. They are primarily concentrated in the Juru division of the Zuru-Donko region. Their homeland is well watered with groups of steep-sided hills of rock.
History tells of a revolt that broke out around 1700 between the Zamfara and the Kebbi peoples. The Banga were the first tribe to move south, where they formed the semi-independent Donko kingdom. In the nineteenth century, the Banga became a great fighting force as a result of persisting Fulani raids in and around Donko. Today, they continue to resist the encroachment of the Fulani and Hausa.
In the early twentieth century, British administration divided northern Nigeria into provinces and independent districts, each of which is ruled by a district chief. Because of seniority, the Donko chief was given higher status as President of the Federal Court. Banga political influence continues to this day.
What are their lives like? Most Banga raise some livestock and work on small farms. They are excellent farmers, using such tools as plow-hoes, axes, and sickles. Their crops include guinea corn, rice, sweet potatoes, red peppers, cotton, and tobacco. The women regularly collect forest products such as locust-beans, roots of certain plants, honey, sheanuts, and various types of wood that are needed for food preparation, medicines, and other necessities. Hunting and fishing are also engaged in, but have declined in importance in recent years.
Many of the Banga work as weavers, mat makers, potters, or crafters of leather and wood. In addition, they are specialized drummers. A variety of drums and drum music are played at special events and for special people. The drummers form a prestigious group of their own.
Banga compounds consist of round huts constructed of mud walls and thatched roofs. Beds are made of mud and are raised so that a fire can burn under them during the cold weather. The compounds are kept in order, with firewood precisely stacked against the compound wall. Each compound has a gate house that is used to receive guests, to store grain, and to keep livestock during the night.
When a woman is pregnant, the Banga believe she must not eat certain foods, enter water for fear of evil spirits, or leave her hut at midday. After the child is born, neither parent may carry it. Rather, a young nurse will only hold the baby toward the mother when the child needs to be fed. By age seven, children begin to work. Boys are given small hoes and later, weapons to take hunting with their fathers. Young girls help their mothers with household duties and tend to the young children. Later, they are taught the chief art of pottery making.
Wrestling is an important sport for Banga males, and participation begins around the age of fourteen. Wrestling matches can be inter- or intra-village affairs. Each year one champion wrestler is awarded a forked stick that he will carry over his shoulder as a sign of victory.
What are their beliefs? Although some of the Banga have converted to Islam due to Hausa and Fulani influences, most still practice their traditional ethnic religion. The Banga are mainly animists (believe that non-human objects have spirits) and both men and women join various cults. Rocks or trees are generally worshipped, and men have their own personal gods. Prayers and sacrifices are offered to the objects, and certain rituals are conducted in conjunction with those offerings to ensure the good growth of crops, to prevent disease, etc. A "chief rainmaker" prays to the gods to send rain, and the supreme being, Assilus, is addressed in times of crisis.
What are their needs? The Banga have few Christian materials available in their language. There are a few known Banga believers. Evangelistic work and much prayer are needed to impact these people with the Gospel of Christ.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into Nigeria to work among the Banga.
* Pray that God will give the Banga believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Banga church for the glory of His name!
* Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Banga who will boldly declare the Gospel. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.