Introduction / History The Republic of Cameroon is located on the western coast of Africa, just below Nigeria. The Hausa are the largest ethnic group in West Africa, and a majority of them are Muslims.
The Hausa are originally from an area known as "Hausaland," a region covering 75,000 square miles and straddling the borders of Niger and Nigeria. The Hausa began to migrate to Cameroon at the end of the nineteenth century.
Between 1884 and 1916, Cameroon was a German colony. The Germans recruited many Hausa traders to act as guides and as spies. Some Hausa soldiers even served in the German campaigns. The Germans favored the Hausa over other native tribes due to their more civilized and trade-oriented society.
Some have wrongly assumed that Boko Haram comes from the Hausa because the term itself is from the Hausa language. But Boko Haram is mainly from Kanuri and Fulani as well as other tribes.
What are their lives like? The Hausa usually wear loose flowing gowns and trousers. The gowns have wide openings on both sides for ventilation. The trousers are loose at the top and center, but rather tight around the ankles. Leather sandals and turbans are also typical. For casual wear, a taggo (long jumper) may replace the big gown, and a plain cap may be worn instead of the turban. The early Hausa priests and traders influenced many non-Hausa in West Africa to adopt this style of dress. The natives wanted to be associated with the privileged group of people who enjoyed access to kings and wealthy people. Today, however, more and more people wear European style clothing.
In the nineteenth century, very few of the Hausa immigrants came to Cameroon with wives. Instead, as soon as they began to make a living in any area, they would take local wives and start to build families. However, they would invite Hausa priests to settle near them so that their children would be educated in the Koran. This was done in order to reduce the influence of the children's non-Hausa mothers, and to keep the Hausa culture alive.
Hausa women are given less educational opportunities than men. In fact, they are often confined to the home, except for visits to relatives, ceremonies, and the workplace. They are primarily responsible for tending to the children and doing the household chores. This includes providing the water and fuel needed for cooking. In addition, they are expected to invest the rest of their time in some type of trade. The money earned is used in financing their daughters' dowries.
The Hausa are very industrious people and idleness is not tolerated. In fact, they have been known to hold down several different occupations at the same time, such as positions in the military, trade and commerce, social services, and in the spreading of Islam.
What are their beliefs? The Hausa of Cameroon are virtually all Muslim. This is a high percentage in Cameroon where only one-fourth of the population is Islamic. However, many of their religious practices have been mixed with local traditions. For example, they believe in a variety of spirits, both good and bad. Traditional rituals include making sacrificial offerings to the spirits and to the spirit possessed. Most rituals are performed by family members, but specialists are called upon to cure diseases. The Hausa priests, or malams, are thought to have the best charms. According to the malams, different magical formulas have different effects. The priests claim to have cures for every aspect of human desire or concern. The malams are welcomed guests among the natives because they believe that the priests' prayers will be answered.
What are their needs? The Hausa culture is strongly linked to Islam, making it difficult to reach this people group with the Gospel. Islam has been carried throughout West Africa by Hausa traders and priests, and nearly everyone expects a Hausa to be Muslim.
Prayer Points Ask the Lord to send long term laborers to live among the Hausa and share the love of Christ with them.
Pray that God will raise up faithful intercessors who will stand in the gap for the Hausa.
Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Muslim Hausa who have become followers of Christ.
Pray that their traditional Muslim culture will soften, creating open doors for the Gospel to be preached among them.
Ask the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of the Hausa towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Hausa.