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Songhai-Koyraboro in Mali


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Songhai-Koyraboro in Mali map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
602,000 Songhay, Koyraboro Senni Islam 0.20 % 0.00 %   

Songhai-Koyraboro in Mali

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Introduction / History
The Songhai are located in the southern and eastern sections of Mali, mainly inhabiting the lush river plains from east of Lake Debo to the border of Niger. Other Songhai live in the desert, with little water and sparse vegetation. There are also sizable communities in Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger, and Nigeria.

The Songhai are known by various names. The Sorko are fishermen in hamlets along the rivers. The Fono live in the upper lake area, and the Gow are hunters in the high grass stretches of the savanna. A caste of magicians goes proudly by the name of Sohanti.

The Songhai trace their origins to the eighth century kingdom of Za. Islam was embraced as early as 1010, but it was mixed with their original beliefs in spirits of the river, soil, and wild game. The Za dynasty endured to the end of the sixteenth century, when it was conquered by the Sultan of Morocco.

What are their lives like?
Songhai settlements usually consist of round, mud or thatched dwellings with straw roofs. An increasing number of rectangular mud-brick houses with corrugated-tin roofs can be seen. Villages along the Niger River contain many rice fields and garden plots. Villages farther from the river are surrounded by bush areas and cultivated fields. Cowpeas, groundnuts, and manioc are the usual crops, but millet is grown from June to September during the brief rainy season. Farming the fields is considered noble labor and is for men only. The women have gardens in which they grow mangoes, guavas, citrus fruits, papayas, dates, and bananas during the hot, dry season. They also cultivate carrots, tomatoes, peppers, cabbages, and various types of squash. Most of the garden work is done by family members. In addition to farming, the Songhai also raise some livestock.

The village community is patrilineal; that is, all the men have a common male ancestor. Among Songhai nobles, firstborn sons are pressured to marry their paternal uncle's daughter, in order to maintain the purity of the lineage. Men marry in their late twenties; whereas, girls marry in their early teens. Whether the marriage bond lasts or not, children belong to the husband's lineage group. Although the Songhai value the Islamic right to have up to four wives, the majority of men have only one, primarily for economic reasons. When there is more than one wife, each lives in her own separate dwelling within the household's compound.

What are their beliefs?
The Songhai are almost all Sunni Muslim. Even though Islam introduced new elements to the Songhai culture, it left the underlying framework of custom and tradition virtually untouched. Islam is superficially important to them, as evidenced in the fact that every town has a mosque, or at least a Friday mosque. Some communities have imams, who teach Islamic philosophy, and Muslim ceremonial activities are frequently practiced. Spirit possession, magic, sorcery, ancestor worship, and witchcraft, however, remain the vital components of Songhai belief. Most of the villages have possession troops, magician-healers, and witches. Ceremonies of spirit possession occur at least once a week in some places. The most important of these are the genji bi hori (a festival in which the Songhai make offerings to the "black spirits" believed to control pestilence) and the yenaandi (rain dance). Both of these ceremonies are held in the dry season. Marabouts (Islamic clerics) lead community prayers but are also used in healing the sick.

What are their needs?
Generally, the Songhai live simple but adequate lives, except in times of drought. Unfortunately, these occur regularly and have left many children as orphans in refugee camps along the Niger. Malnutrition is a problem for many.

A majority of the Songhai have never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. Christian workers who can share the love of Jesus in practical ways are urgently needed to reach the Songhai.

Prayer Points
* Ask the Lord to send Christian agricultural workers, educators, and doctors to minister to the Songhai of Mali.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom to missions agencies focusing on the Songhai.
* Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Songhai who will boldly proclaim the Gospel.
* Pray that God will strengthen, embolden, and protect Songhai believers.
* Ask God to raise up intercessors who will stand in the gap for the Songhai.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a vigorous Songhai church for the glory of His name!

View Songhai-Koyraboro in all countries.

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2007-01-23
Global Prayer Digest: 2014-02-23
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Country: Mali
Continent: Africa
Region: Africa, West and Central
Persecution Rank:24 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Total Provinces on file:2
Location in Country:Gao region: Gao town area along Niger river; Tombouctou region: Niafunké to Niger border.
(Source: Ethnologue 2018)
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Country Map:Political map
Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Songhai-Koyraboro
People Name General: Songhai-Koyraboro
Alternate People Names:
East SonghaiGao
SonrhaiWest Songhai
ROP3 Code: 109404
Joshua Project People ID: 14989
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 602,000
Population all Countries: 1,799,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
People Cluster: Songhai
People Name General: Songhai-Koyraboro
Ethnic Code: NAB65b
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Songhay, Koyraboro Senni (602,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): ses    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity0.20 %(Evangelical: 0.00 %)
Ethnic Religions0.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam99.80 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant20.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic80.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
GSEC Status:Level 2   Less than 2% Evangelical. Initial (localized) church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 2004
New Testament:
Complete Bible: 2014
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 (GRN)
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament (FCBH)
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Songhay, Koyraboro S ...
Film / VideoMy Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
GeneralResources in Songhay
Mobile AppScripture files - download
Text / Printed MatterBible: Songhai de Gao - Koyraboro Senni ...
Text / Printed MatterWorld Missionary Press Booklets
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Songhai-Koyraboro in Mali

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Songhai     Africa, West and Central    
      Songhai-Koyraboro Mali    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Songhai-Koyraboro in Mali          
      Religion Language  
      Islam     Songhay, Koyraboro Senni  
    All Religions                              

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