Introduction / History Burkina Faso consists of an extensive plateau that is slightly inclined toward the south. It is home to a number of ethnic groups, and the great majority of the population is rural, living in some 7,700 villages. The country has three principal rivers: the Black Volta, Red Volta, and White Volta.
The Siamou (also known as the Seme) are located in Kenedougou Province in western Burkina Faso. The Siamou are a part of the Kru, who are located primarily in Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia. Their language (also called Siamou) is part of the Kru sub-group of the Niger-Congo language family.
Little is known concerning the specific lifestyle and culture of the Siamou; thus, some assumptions have been made in this profile. We have not been able to discover why the Siamou live so far from other groups of the same language family. However, from their location and information on surrounding groups, it is assumed that they are primarily farmers.
What are their lives like? The earliest known inhabitants of Burkina Faso were the Bobo, Lobi, and Gurunsi. In the 1400s, horsemen from the south invaded the region and established the Gurma and Mossi kingdoms. Several Mossi kingdoms developed, with the most powerful one located in Ouagadougou. This state, headed by an emperor titled the morho naba (great lord), defeated attempted invasions by Muslim Songhai and Fulani neighbors. Despite the warfare, the kingdom managed to maintain valuable commercial links with major West African trading powers, such as the Dyula, the Hausa, and the Asante (Ashanti).
The Siamou are very close neighbors to the Toussian and the Karaboro, sub-groups of the Lobi and Senoufo, respectively. Primarily farmers, the Siamou grow cereals such as sorghum, millet, and maize. Yams, squash, beans, peppers, and a little rice are also grown. Some of these crops are sold in local markets, especially beer made from sorghum. Cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens are raised at each homestead. The men do most of the farm work, but the women help plant and harvest. Women also cultivate their own garden vegetables, collect forest products, gather firewood, draw water, and prepare the food and beer.
The Siamou live in rectangular, fortress-type compounds. Both male and female help in house-building. Structures are high and have thick mud or clay walls and flat roofs. A number of compounds compose a settlement, but these are located at a distance from one another so as to separate one family's farm and herds from others. Larger bush farms are located farther away from the settlements.
Children are cared for by their mothers and are breast-fed until they can walk. At that time, they are considered to have become human and are entitled to a proper burial. From this point, children are cared for by older sisters or relatives, who include them in their play. Girls play house and sometimes help carry water or grind cereals, while boys help with herding the cattle.
What are their beliefs? The majority of the Siamou follow their traditional, animistic religion (believing that non-human objects have spirits). Approximately one quarter more have partially adopted Islam, the dominant religion of the area. Much of this conversion has resulted from contact with Muslim Dyula traders.
Siamou religion revolves around the worship of both deceased ancestors and the earth. The earth is thought to watch over the community and bring fertility to its soil. The ancestors are believed to watch over the lineage and are involved with household matters. Also, spirits in animals and objects can be "caught," and shrines are then erected to them.
What are their needs? The Siamou have few Christian resources available in their language. Nevertheless, several have become Christians. Discipleship materials for these young believers are needed. Above all, intercession is needed to break down the strongholds that are keeping the Siamou in spiritual bondage.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to use Christians in Burkina Faso to minister the love of Jesus to the Siamou.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint the efforts of any missions agencies ministering to them.
* Pray that God will give the Siamou 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 a vigorous Siamou church for the glory of His name! * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language. * Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.