Introduction / History The Somali share a common language, adhere to a single faith, and share a cultural heritage. The Somalis first appeared in the Horn of Africa around 1200 and began expanding westward and southward about 150 years later. They converted to Islam around 1550, under the influence of Arab traders that had settled along the coast of present-day Somalia. By 1650, they had moved into Ethiopia.
The Somalis consider themselves warriors. They are a very individualistic people, sharply divided by clans. Fights often occur between the clans, resulting in many deaths. The results in recent decades have been tragic. Somalia is basically ungovernable, and their economy is in shambles. Today many do what they can to flee to other parts of the world like Italy.
Italy and Somalia have a history of strife and colonial exploitation. Italian fascists brutally took over Somalia as a colony, and expanded their holdings into Ethiopia before their efforts were neutralized by the Allied Powers. Italy's 20th century imperialistic efforts were short-lived, but like other colonial powers, some of the formerly colonized people have moved to the land of the former colonizer.
Where are they located? Most likely Somalis in Italy are trying to earn a living in Italy's urban centers.
What are their lives like? Many of the Somalis living in Europe risked their lives to escape from their troubled, war-torn nation. Those who have successfully reached Italy face a harsh new reality: little or no money, no job, no friends or family. And most do not speak the language. Settling in to their new country and culture can be very difficult.
On the positive side, Somalis in Europe tend to be more open to those who are preaching and demonstrating the love of God than those who live in Somalia.
What are their beliefs? Although the Somali are nearly all Shafiite Muslims, numerous beliefs and traditions have been intermingled with their Islamic practices. Some observe the standard Islamic prayers, but Somali women have never worn any kind of traditional Muslim veil. Somali frequently turn to the wadaad (a religious expert) for blessings, charms and advice in worldly matters.
What are their needs? Somalis in Italy have an alarmingly high unemployment rate. They understand that they need to learn Italian and develop useful job skills to function in Italy. Believers can give them the training they need and teach them the ways of Jesus in the process. Believers can also provide a good place for Somali children and teens to study and play sports after school.
Prayer Points * Pray for God to soften the hearts of the Somalis in Italy and bring them into contact with the gospel.
* Pray for Somalis to call out to God in their distress and put their faith in Christ for all their needs.
* Pray for believers to reach this Somali network in such a way that there will be a church planting movement among the Somalis in Italy that will extend to Somalia.
* Pray that Italy will serve as a starting point for a disciple-making movement among Somalis.