Introduction / History The Bangwinji inhabit the Kaltungo district in southeastern Bauchi state, Nigeria. They speak Bangwinji, an Adamawa language from the Niger-Congo language family. Since the Hausa are a large, influential group in this part of Nigeria, many Bangwinji also speak Hausa as a secondary or trade language.
According to their oral history, the Bangwinji migrated from the Tula hill country many years ago, settling at Bangnatana Hill near the town of Kaltungo. They left the area, however, because of the many wars in the nearby mountains. Attacks from the Dadiya forced the Bangwinji to move to higher hilltops or to live with other tribes such as the Billiri and Loh.
When peace finally came in the 1920s, some of the hill dwellers settled in the plains near the hills. Today, those Bangwinji live a lifestyle that has been influenced by the Hausa. However, the Bangwinji who remain in the hills maintain their traditional way of life.
What are their lives like? The Bangwinji are farmers who grow guinea corn, beans, millet, and cotton on both the hills and the plains. The farm work is done collectively, each man helping his neighbor. The women have plots of ground on which they plant their own crops, and the produce from these plots is theirs to do with as they wish. Both men and women participate in the agricultural work. If a girl wishes to marry in a certain year, she must first finish helping with her father's harvest before she is allowed to marry.
Bangwinji men are free to choose their own wives, and girls may have as many as five suitors competing for their hand in marriage. The suitors must help the girl's family with the farm work and must present gifts to the girl's parents on a regular basis. At the Tangbe festival, the girl will decide which of the suitors she chooses as a husband. A wedding day is set for a time after harvest, and the couple will then begin to live together as husband and wife.
Bangwinji boys around the age of two are taken to a shrine by their parents. Fowl and beer are brought along as offerings. At the shrine, a priest names the boys, prays for them, and presents them to their ancestor spirits. These spirits are believed to care for them throughout their lives. As the boys grow, offerings for protection are continually made at these shrines. The naming of a girl follows basically the same procedure, but the girls are taken to a diviner's house where the naming and an initiation occur.
The chief among all the Bangwinji is the Lealuwe, whose office is hereditary and comes from the royal Bikwakulep clan. If the chief has more than one son, the people may vote on which son will become chief after him. This is done by each person lining up behind the candidate he chooses.
Although most Bangwinji villages have paths or roads leading to them, some can be reached only by foot or motorcycle. Fortunately, most villages have easy access to water, with mountain springs running down to the valleys.
What are their beliefs? Although less than half of the Bangwinji have become Muslim in recent years, most are still ethnic religionists, retaining their ancient religion and traditions. The Bangwinji worship ancestor spirits as well as various gods. Lett is the most revered deity among them. Every seven years, the Lett cult offers sacrifices to this god in a special festival. The people carry farm products to present in thanksgiving for seven years of good harvests. During the festival, a flute (the symbol of the cult) is played once and then hidden.
What are their needs? The Bangwinji have no health facilities, and their schools are poorly supervised. Perhaps Christian doctors and teachers could use their skills to minister to them. In addition, no Christian resources are available in their language and no missions agencies are currently working with them. Evangelistic work, practical helps, and continual prayer are needed to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of the Bangwinji.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord of the harvest to send Christian doctors and teachers to minister to the Bangwinji of Nigeria.
* Pray that Christian radio broadcasts and evangelical literature will be made available to the Bangwinji.
* Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Bangwinji who will boldly declare the Gospel.
* Ask God to raise prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
* Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Bangwinji. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language. * Pray for Gospel messages to become available in audio format for this people group.