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Natemba in Benin


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Natemba in Benin map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
99,000 Nateni Ethnic Religions 7.00 % 4.00 % No   

Natemba in Benin

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Introduction / History
The Natemba are concentrated in the Atakora Mountains of northwestern Benin and across the border in Togo, especially in the Sansanne-Mango region. The Natemba of Benin represent only a fraction of the country's total population.

The Natemba are commonly regarded as being a sub-group of the Somba. The Somba have been described as the "castle people" because of their unique two-storied houses. Even though they are a highly individualistic people, they share many features and aspects of culture with the Mande, who were once the predominant group throughout the region.

Very little is known about the Natemba in particular, except that historical accounts claim they originated in Burkina Faso. Their language, which they call Nateni, is a member of the Niger-Congo family of languages.

What are their lives like?
Like most of the tribes in Benin, the Natemba are subsistence farmers, growing millet, sorghum, and occasionally fonio (a sorghum-like grain) as the staple crops. Depending on the climatic conditions, items such as melons, onions, bananas, cucumbers, eggplant, rice, taro, yams, tobacco, and tomatoes may also be grown. Farming methods are very basic, with the hoe being the primary tool for cultivation. Crops are rotated, and fields are sometimes left fallow.

Hunting, fishing, and gathering (especially of shea nuts) all occur in the area but provide only a modest supplement to the Natemba's diet. Of considerably more importance is raising livestock. All the tribes keep at least some cattle, mainly of a hump-less, short-horned variety. Generally, cattle are used for sacrifices, marriage payments, and for hides and manure, but almost never for milk. Other domestic animals, such as sheep, goats, dogs, and chickens, may also be kept.

Trade seems to be highly developed among the tribes of Benin, and regular markets are widespread. Women do most of the market trading as well as the gathering. Hunting is done by the men, and fishing, by both sexes. The men also tend to the livestock, clear the land, and perform the bulk of the agricultural work. The women, however, help in the fields whenever they are needed.

Most of the Natemba live in neighborhoods of scattered family homesteads, with a few compact villages in different areas. Most of the tribes of the region live in round or rectangular mud or sun-dried brick huts with thatch roofs.

Few of the tribes in the region impose restrictions on premarital sex. Marriages are usually arranged by the heads of two extended families, often while the girl is still an infant. While the various Somba sub-groups, such as the Natemba, do not require a bride-price, they do demand premarital bride-service. Polygyny (having more than one wife) is permitted within the tribes and occurs frequently. Usually the first wife enjoys a superior status. The husband divides his time equally among his wives, who each live in separate quarters.

What are their beliefs?
Although some of the Natemba in Benin have accepted Islam or Christianity, most still follow their traditional ethnic religion. They believe that there are many gods and that the stars contain supernatural forces. They have an extensive system of cults in which mystical power is explained and controlled. The Natemba also believe that every person has an inner force that determines his own destiny. After death, this soul is said to either go to the sky to be with the other mystical powers, or is reincarnated (reborn into the body of another human or animal). In addition, the dead are thought to influence the living; thus, sacrifices are made to gain their favor.

What are their needs?
Although considerable progress has been made among the Natemba, the majority have yet to hear the Gospel. Much prayer and further evangelism are needed to teach them the way to eternal life.

Prayer Points
* Ask the Lord to send forth laborers into Benin to share the love of Jesus with the Natemba.
* Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Natemba who will openly profess the lordship of Jesus.
* Pray that God will use the Natemba believers as bold witnesses to their families and friends.
* Ask the Lord to raise up Natemba believers who are capable of discipling others.
* Ask God to call faithful intercessors who will stand in the gap for the Natemba.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a vigorous Natemba church for the glory of His name!
* Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.

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Country: Benin
Continent: Africa
Region: Africa, West and Central
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Atakora department: Tanguiéta, Toucountouna, Cobly, Matéri, and Kouandé communes. Tayaba dialect in Tanguiéta; Kuntemba in Cobly, Matéri, and Tanguiéta communes; Natemba in Toucountouna commune; Okoma in Tanguiéta and Kouandé communes; Tayaba in Tanguiéta commune, Matéri, and Tanguiéta communes.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
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Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Natemba
People Name General: Natemba
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 107117
Joshua Project People ID: 13251
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 99,000
Population all Countries: 99,000
Least-Reached: No
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
People Cluster: Gur
People Name General: Natemba
Ethnic Code: NAB56a
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Nateni
Language Code (ISO): ntm    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity7.00 %(Evangelical: 4.00 %)
Ethnic Religions88.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam3.00 % 
Non-Religious2.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent4.00 %
Protestant50.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian1.00 %
Roman Catholic45.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Evangelicals have a modest presence.
Least-Reached: No
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: 1999–2015
New Testament:
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 (GRN)
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament (FCBH)
Film / VideoGod's Story Video
Text / Printed MatterJesus Messiah comic book
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Natemba in Benin

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Gur     Africa, West and Central    
      Natemba Benin    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Natemba in Benin          
      Religion Language  
      Ethnic Religions     Nateni  
    All Religions                              

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