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Me'en in Ethiopia

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Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
265,000 Me'en Christianity 56.00 % 53.64 %   

Me'en in Ethiopia

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Introduction / History
It is believed that the Me 'en may have originated in southern Sudan and gradually moved into southwestern Ethiopia. The Me 'en, however, claim that they originated near the Omo River in southern Ethiopia, where they believe that their ancestors emerged from a hole in the ground. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Me 'en were known by the highland Ethiopians as one of the populations from which large numbers of slaves were taken. They had a reputation of fierceness in battle, demonstrated in the tough resistance they put up against Amhara feudal troops.

Where are they located?
The Me 'en are an ethnic group of about 55,000 people located in the highlands and lowlands of southwestern Ethiopia. About 1500 of them live across the border in Sudan.

What are their lives like?
The Me 'en are subsistence-level farmers and herders. They use hoes for loosening the earth and wooden digging sticks for planting. They produce no surplus of significance. There are few details available on the Me 'en

The Me 'en live in fear of the spirits which inhabit their people as well as the spirits of their dead ancestors. Addiction to a locally-made beer, called "sholu," has resulted in the frequent outbreak of fights which has led to killings. The Me 'en are also called Mekan or Tishena. Most of them live in Ethiopia. The word Me 'en means "people," "humans."

The Me 'en language is called by their name. The Me 'en language is also spoken by a neighboring people called Bodi. Me 'en is an Eastern Sudanic language, related to Didinga and Murle spoken in southeastern Sudan.

The Tishena group within the Me 'en community have hostile relations with the neighboring Tirma and Chai people. Their clashes frequently result in fights over territorial rights and some deaths. The Dime people border them on the east and have fairly peaceful relations.

The Me 'en virtually all live in small scattered hamlets and compounds in the rural areas. Their huts are made of stick walls and grass roofs. Traditional Me 'en clothing was made from cow, goat, or antelope skins. Barkcloth clothing came into existence later. The Me 'en once produced their own bark cloth clothing and bags, yet this practice has declined with the availability of imported cloth. Women wear bracelets consisting of beads and giraffe or warthog hair.

The staple food of the Me 'en are corn and sorghum. In addition, they grow barley, t 'eff (a small Ethiopian grain), cabbage, a variety of beans, peas, peppers, sugarcane, and some tobacco. The Me 'en have no access to modern transport or agricultural services. The chief means of transportation for the Me 'en are horse and mule. They also hunt and gather, trading in antelope, buffalo, and leopard skins.

The main source of fuel for the Me 'en is firewood. Its abundance, however, is rapidly decreasing due to an ever-increasing population. The average Me 'en birthrate is 8 children per married wife. It is estimated that four out of every ten children die before their sixth year.

The Me 'en do not boil their water for drinking nor for the preparation of food. Water is generally accessed in the highlands from the numerous springs which flow out of the mountainsides. Lowland Me 'en are dependent on the streams which flow from the highlands. Latrines are non-existent.

A Me 'en man can, depending upon his wealth, marry more than ten women. Most men, however, have one to three wives. The women plant seeds, weed fields, grind grain, prepare food, draw water, fetch wood, take care of small children, and clean the compound and house. The also make their own cooking plates, pots, and jugs; baskets; sieves; containers of straw and wood; and fashion gourds into drinking and beer containers.

The Me 'en have special music and dance styles known as the gulay. The gulay are songs of joy about love, good harvest, prosperity of the family, cattle, and male vigor. For entertainment, the Me 'en enjoy drinking the beer which they make themselves.

When a Me 'en dies, an elaborate funeral lasting several days is held. At the burial, the Me 'en will kill cattle or goats and read the intestines in order to discern signs from the spirit realm. The corpse is then wrapped in cow skin and buried, a procedure meant to appease the spirits of the dead.

What are their beliefs?
The Me 'en people believe that their ancestors emerged from a hole in the ground somewhere in southwestern Ethiopia. The Me 'en live in fear of the many spirits which they suppose fill their rivers and woods. The Me 'en believe that communication with the spirit world is indispensable in order to avert misfortune from the spirits of the dead.

The Me 'en also believe in a sky god called Tuma. They believe this god has created them and that he is the god of rain and fertility. They expect a holy dog to somehow intercede with Tuma on their behalf. K 'alichas, or traditional spirit mediums, practice divination and will place curses on others at the request of their enemies.

What are their needs?
The Me 'en have had little opportunity to hear and accept the gospel. They are classified as Unreached, though the 1500 living in Sudan have been even more isolated from access to the gospel and are classified as World A.

Prayer Points
Pray for pastors, evangelists and teachers from the group itself to be prepared to adequately teach them the Scriptures.
* Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.


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Country: Ethiopia
Continent: Africa
Region: Africa, East and Southern
Persecution Rank:39 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ region: Bench-Maji zone; highlanders (Banio) in Bachuma area; lowlanders (Koruwo) south; Bodi near Omo river.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
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Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Me'en
People Name General: Me'en
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 106512
Joshua Project People ID: 13654
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 265,000
Population all Countries: 268,000
Least-Reached: No
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
People Cluster: Nilotic
People Name General: Me'en
Ethnic Code: NAB62y
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Me'en (265,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): mym    Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect:Mèen
Dialect Code:4540
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Christianity
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity56.00 %(Evangelical: 53.64 %)
Ethnic Religions39.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam5.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Evangelicals have a significant presence.
Least-Reached: No
GSEC Status:Level 6   Greater than or equal to 10% Evangelical
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 1996-2010
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Possible Bible Sources: Forum of Bible Agencies
 World Bible Finder
 World Christian Resource Directory
 Gospel Go
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Me'en
Film / VideoLUMO film of Gospels
GeneralGospel resources links
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Me'en in Ethiopia

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Nilotic     Africa, East and Southern    
      Me'en Ethiopia    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Me'en in Ethiopia          
      Religion Language  
      Christianity     Me'en  
    All Religions                              

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