Introduction / History The Kagoro of Mali are located in the Kaarta-Bine and Gumbu regions in the central part of the country. They are a sub-group of the Mande and are closely related to the neighboring Bambara. Although the Kagoro speak their own native tongue, many also speak the more common Bambara as a second language.
As the largest ethnic group in Mali, the Bambara are among the most powerful and influential groups in the country. They can be found in the middle valley of the Niger River. Two Bambara kingdoms, Segu and Karta, existed during the eighteenth century. Militant Muslims overthrew these kingdoms in the nineteenth century, but a few Bambara warlords continued resisting until the French arrived forty years later.
The Kagoro are mostly farmers. However, in recent years, sweeping ecological changes in the area, such as drought and overgrazing, have greatly disrupted their agricultural way of life.
What are their lives like? The staple crop of the Kagoro is millet, but sorghum, groundnuts, and fonio (sorghum-like grain) are also produced. Maize, tobacco, manioc, and many vegetables are grown in gardens. Farm work is done by both men and women, although the women arrive at the fields later and leave earlier than the men in order to prepare the morning and evening meals. Children between the ages of twelve and fourteen are used to lead the oxen as they plow and to guard them during rest.
The Kagoro also raise animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and chickens. They generally use neighboring Fulani herdsmen to care for their livestock, thus freeing themselves to concentrate on farming during the short rainy season. Hunting is another common activity, and antelope, boar, ostrich, and guinea fowl are killed for their meat and skins. In addition, honey is gathered from the wild bees in the area.
Kagoro villages consist of a number of different households, usually all from one lineage or extended family. Each gwa (household) provides protection and help in farming for all its members. The members of the gwa work together every day except Monday, which is market day and the traditional day of rest. The houses of the Kagoro are somewhat larger than those of other groups in West Africa, with the largest containing sixty or more people.
Children provide the household's labor force and ensure the future of the lineage. As a result, the average Kagoro woman has eight children. Marriages, therefore, are very important and are viewed almost as an investment. All adults are married, and it is considered strange that some from neighboring groups remain single. Even elderly widows in their seventies or eighties have suitors. The women are obliged to accept one of the suitors, since a wife increases the prestige of a man.
Illiteracy is a major problem among the Kagoro. Some Islamic schools have been established, but most villages fail to educate their children because their help is needed on the farm.
What are their beliefs? The majority of the Kagoro are animists, believing that non-human objects have spirits. In addition, they practice ancestor worship (praying to the dead for help and guidance), and rites are celebrated to worship them. The eldest of a lineage serves as the mediator between the living and the dead, since he is nearest in age to the world of the departed. The dead are appeased with offerings of millet flour and water. The Kagoro believe that sometimes their ancestors may take the form of animals or even vegetables!
What are their needs? Drought in Mali have caused serious problems for the Kagoro in their agricultural activities. Also, more schools and an emphasis on literacy are desperately needed. Christian teachers would find many opportunities of ministry in Mali.
Prayer is the first step towards seeing the Kagoro reached with the Gospel.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to call Christian educators who are willing to minister the love of Jesus to the Kagoro of Mali.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Kagoro.
* Pray that God will give the Kagoro believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth many Christian fellowships for the glory of His name! * Pray for translation of the Bible to begin in this people group's primary language. * Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.