Introduction / History The Southwest Gbaya live in relative peace with their neighbors in a forested area of Central African Republic. Most of the people grow crops such as cassava, peanuts and corn to meet their own needs. Any small surplus is sold to purchase other goods. Diamond mining offers another source of employment, but it comes at a price. The people earn little for their efforts and the profits are used in cultural rituals, which they believe bring success.
What are their beliefs? Christianity was first introduced to the Gbaya in the 1930s. Many practice a mixed religion. Although approximately 70 percent claim Christianity, the hold of superstitious beliefs and ritualistic practices associated with animism is strong.
Some Christians do practice a living faith and stand firm against the influences of the traditional religions. For example, these believers do not put up idols to protect their fields. Because fear of these idols — or fetishes — can scare away potential thieves, the Christian Gbayan takes this stand despite the potential for higher theft from his fields.
Although the New Testament has been translated, it is not widely used because of its association with one particular denomination. However, the churches of the area are coming together to bring the Old Testament to their communities.