Introduction / History The Kupa are a small group of agricultural, Muslim people who live in central Nigeria. They are a sub-group of the larger Nupe peoples. No Christian resources are available in the Kupa language. The language is endangered as the Kupa are merging with the dominant Hausa-Fulani Muslim culture of north Nigeria. The young people prefer to speak the Hausa and English they learn at school. Another issue confronting the Kupa is the illiteracy of many adults.
Where are they located? Their traditional headquarter is Abugi in Lokoja Local Government Area of Kogi State in central Nigeria, though the Kupa can be found in about 52 villages.
What are their lives like? A large majority of the Kupa are Muslims and the influence of the Hausa/Fulani is strong. However, the people have been able to preserve their culture. Interactions with other culture as well as civilization is also altering the lifestyle of the people; though Islam still remains a stronghold.
The main occupation of the Kupa is farming. They grow rice, maize, millet, yams, bananas, beans and vegetables. Peanuts, kola nuts and palm oil are cash crops which provide the Kupa with money to buy things they cannot make for themselves like cell phones and appliances. Most families also raise chickens, goats and cattle to supplement their diet. Village elders settle legal disputes and deal with outsiders.
Most people groups in rural Nigeria like the Kupa enjoy music, story telling and dance as a form of entertainment and communication. These art forms are very meaningful in rural Nigeria. Those who want to take the gospel to the Kupa people would do well to use these art forms when presenting the gospel.
What are their beliefs? The Kupa people are Sunni, the largest branch of Islam. They believe that the One, Supreme God, Allah, revealed through his prophet, Mohammed, and taught mankind how to live a righteous life through the Koran and the Hadith. To live a righteous life, you must utter the Shahada (a statement of faith), pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, slandering, and making idols. They gather for corporate prayer on Friday afternoons at a mosque, their place of worship.
The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.
In most of the Muslim world, peoples like the Kupa depend on the spirit world for their daily needs since they regard Allah as too distant. Allah may determine their eternal salvation, but the spirits determine how well we live in our daily lives. For that reason, they must appease these spirits, which the Kupa believe inhabit the objects of nature like animals, tree, rocks, rivers and the sky. They often use charms and amulets to help them deal with spiritual forces. A tiny fraction of the Kupa is Christian.
What are their needs? The Kupa people need abundant rain for their crops and their livestock so they can live lives free of want and poverty. They need modern medical care and good schools that will help the next generation to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Most of all the Kupa need to hear and understand the message of Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and give them eternal life.
Prayer Points * Pray for workers to go to the Kupa people, and for their hearts to be ready to receive their savior.
* Pray for networks of believing Kupa families and fellowships that will throw the doors open for others to follow Jesus.
* Pray that the Lord sends Nigerian Christians to share the gospel with the Kupa.
* Pray for believers among this people group to disciple others who will disciple still others. * Pray for translation of the Bible to begin in this people group's primary language. * Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people. * Pray for Gospel messages to become available in audio format for this people group.
Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association (NEMA)