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Zarma in Mali


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Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
2,600 Zarma Islam 0.20 % 0.10 %   

Zarma in Mali

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Introduction / History
In the 15th century there was an empire that controlled much of western and central Niger, and it was dominated by the Songhai-Zerma people. Today the Zerma are considered part of the larger Songhai cluster of peoples. The two groups treat each other as cousins and frequently intermarry.

Where are they located?
The bulk of the Zerma people live in Niger, but they live in six West African countries, including Mali, which is just to the west of Niger. Their population in Mali is very small compared with the other countries.

What are their lives like?
The most respected form of work for the Zerma people is farming. They raise millet, sorghum, beans, and peanuts as their staple crops. Each household also has its own garden where they grow vegetables. The Zerma people use basic, traditional farming tools without the aid of modern equipment like tractors. Many seasons their efforts are wiped out through pests or droughts. This people group has little time for leisure activity. They also raise livestock. A small number of Zerma people are fishermen, businessmen, or teachers.

As cultural Muslims, a man can take up to four wives, though this is usually reserved for older, wealthier men. When a man has more than one wife, each wife has a separate dwelling for her and her children. Zarma women must clean, cook, carry water, and care for the children. The household is the basic social unit among the Zerma. A typical Zerma home is either round with mud walls or is rectangular with walls made of sun-dried mud bricks. Most houses have straw thatched roofs.

What are their beliefs?
The Zarma people identify with the Islamic religion, and they have been Muslim for centuries. Their culture and customs are tied in with Islam. However, they also practice traditional religion. Wearing charms and amulets, and consulting mediums are part of their lives.

What are their needs?
The Zerma people have put their faith and trust in spirits that come to kill, steal, and destroy them. They need the One who comes to give them life to the full.

The Zerma people could have much better crops if they had modern farming tools.

Prayer Points
Pray for the JESUS Film and gospel recordings to be widely distributed among the Zerma people.
Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers to work among the Zerma of Mali.
Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to mission agencies currently focusing on the Zerma people.
Pray for many Zerma elders to encounter the living Christ and lead their people to faith in the true Savior.


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Country: Mali
Continent: Africa
Region: Africa, West and Central
Persecution Rank:17 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Tillabéri and Dosso regions; also Niamey.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
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Country Map:Political map
Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Zarma
People Name General: Zarma
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 111171
Joshua Project People ID: 16100
Indigenous: No
Population in Country: 2,600
Population all Countries: 5,130,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
People Cluster: Songhai
People Name General: Zarma
Ethnic Code: NAB65c
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Zarma (2,600 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): dje    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity0.20 %(Evangelical: 0.10 %)
Ethnic Religions0.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam99.80 % 
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]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 1934
New Testament:
Complete Bible: 1989-1990
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
Audio RecordingsOral Bible Stories
Audio RecordingsStory of Jesus audio
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Zarma
Film / VideoWorld Christian Videos
GeneralBible for Children
GeneralGospel resources links
Mobile AppDownload audio Bible app as APK file
Text / Printed MatterChildren and youth resources
Text / Printed MatterTopical Scripture booklets and Bible stu ...
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Zarma in Mali

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

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