Introduction / History The Natioro occupy a small area in the extreme southwest of Burkina Faso. Poor roads and a somewhat hilly landscape have prevented much outside contact, and the Natioro remain a strongly traditionalistic people. Still, they are friendly to outsiders and eager to improve their own society. The area's hot and arid climate, broken by a rainy season in the summer, is conducive to growing millet and maize. Yams and dried fish complement the villagers' diet.
Most families survive through subsistence farming, although some men are herdsmen or merchants. Carpenters are rare, but they are well-known for the beds they produce from local wood. The Natioro trade among themselves and with neighboring peoples at a weekly market. Men rule as the "family chief," and may marry several wives and father numerous children. Each village recognizes its own chief who settles disputes among the people. Larger conflicts are handled by an outside Government official. People gather as a community for important events such as weddings, funerals, and baptisms.
The young people of the area have only one primary school to attend, and spend much of their time helping out in the fields or doing housework. As they mature, finding a job becomes very difficult, especially during the dry season. Many seem willing to learn to read, but there have been no successful literacy programs among the people. Although the Natioro claim to be Muslim, many Animistic beliefs persist. Ceremonies combine Islamic customs with traditional methods of ancestor worship and animal sacrifice. No missionary groups have worked among the people, and there are no known Natioro believers. The villagers' longing for literacy may be a key way for workers to reach them with the Word of God.