Introduction / History The Jula people, numbering about 2,520,000, are found throughout Côte d'Ivoire, southern Mali and Burkina Faso. The Jula are merchants who sell and trade other peoples' goods. They produce very little of their own. Because of this, Jula is the predominant trade language in the markets. A minority of Jula may make craftwork or practice subsistence farming, but this is looked down upon. Salesmanship is so ingrained into the culture that children begin selling items at as young as eight or nine years of age.
Islam is the predominant religion of the Jula, about 1% is Christian. Church growth has been very slow, due in part to persecution from family members that the Jula face when converting to Christianity, and partly to their resistance toward cultural change. The Christian Missionary Alliance church began work among the Jula people in the 1950's. Since then, other denominations such as the Baptist church and Bread of Life (a Canadian denomination) have begun work among them as well.
The Jula New Testament was completed in 1993 and a Jula translator is continuing Old Testament translation, currently 50% completed. The adult literacy rate in Jula is about 5%. Jula literature is scarce, and the motivation to read is nearly non-existent. Because of this, promoting the Scripture through other kinds of media is required. Christian radio broadcasts in the Jula language began in 2000, promoting the relevance of Scripture in everyday life. This has been well accepted, even among non-Christians, who enjoy hearing stories in their native language.
Since the war broke out in Côte d'Ivoire in 2002, many Jula have been displaced. Trade routes that used to go through Côte d'Ivoire are now being detoured through more stable surrounding countries, like Ghana. This has had a large economic impact on the Jula remaining in the country. They retain their pride in their people, though, and look optimistically toward the future.