Introduction / History The Syem, or Western Karaboro, are one of the many small groups inhabiting the southwestern corner of Burkina Faso. As far as culture is concerned, they are quite similar to the Kai, or Eastern Karaboro. Linguistically, however, their speech varieties are quite distinct. That is the reason for this separate profile.
The Syem live in a pretty region: their homeland is dotted with hills and small lakes. While the Kai are noted for their millet and maize farming, the Syem focus less on that. Their main crop is rice. They are also involved in various crafts and money making trades: they produce palm wine, grow vegetables to be sold at the local market , make pottery, weave baskets, and other things. As far as development needs of the group, the Syem are better off than many peoples of Burkina. A hospital is within 10 miles (15km) of most Syem villages. At least five of eleven Syem villages have elementary schools. Middle and high schools are quite close. However, much could be done regarding local health education and nutrition.
The Syem are almost entirely Muslim. Their occupation as merchants encourages this attachment. Non Muslims have a hard time establishing themselves in the local markets. It is also a question how much they still adhere to traditional religion. In any event , the Gospel has had very little success in penetrating the Syem culture. Pray that the Lord opens hearts to His truth. A further complication is that the Gospel will probably only be presented to them in the Jula language, which is a second language to them. They are very proficient in Jula, but it is not the language of their heart. Pray that the Lord uses His means in his timing. As a final prayer request, pray that the Syem will be stimulated to become literate in Jula. This will greatly help them in all basic education, learning about agriculture and health and it may also open up the spiritual truth they so very much need.