Introduction / History Most Warji (also called Warjawa) live in the Warji and Ganjuwa districts in Bauchi Province of Nigeria, where they have remained for many generations. Much of this area is known as Ningi, and is quite fertile, being well-watered by the Delimi and Bunga Rivers. It is a plateau region with thick tree growth, many streams, and a variety of animals.
The Warji are closely related to their neighbors the Afawa, with whom they share similarities in language and culture. Warji are also geographically and politically related to the Butawa. Besides their own Chadic language, the Warji speak the Hausa language of their neighbors as a secondary language.
Those Warji who have settled in Kano state, across the boundary of Bauchi, have adopted the Hausa religion, language, and style of dress. The majority of Warji, however, live in Bauchi and continue to follow their traditional culture and practices.
What are their lives like? Farming is the basis of Warji livelihood. Farmers grow guinea corn, rice, millet, sweet potatoes, okra, and peppers. Most families keep sheep, goats, horses, and some cattle, which are often tended by Fulani nomads. Other occupations include hunting, fishing, making palm-leaf mats, dyeing, and trading.
Warji villages are separated into wards which include the extended families, each ward having as its leader the eldest male of the family. For the elders, each ward has a clubhouse, essentially a round shelter supported by strong branches with stone slabs for seats. Warji youths also have clubhouses built around tall poles and painted with red, white, and black bands.
Because the Warji are surrounded by mountains and because motor roads in the area are poor, it is difficult to travel in or out of the region. Those living in rural areas show little signs of modernization, and most children do not attend school.
Young men may choose wives subject to the approval of their parents. Until he marries, the suitor must perform manual work, usually on the farm of the girl's family. Polygamy is a common practice, and women often leave their husbands.
Every four years, boys from ages seven to nine are taken outside the village to the sacred grove of the forest to be circumcised. After two months of healing and rigorous training, they are brought back, and a festival is celebrated. At the age of fifteen, the priest-chief takes the boys to the shrine of the dodo (a masquerade cult of the ancestors) to undergo training and discipleship and to learn tribal mysteries.
Other important ceremonies include the planting and harvesting festivals and the rain cult. These rites and festivals are accompanied by much feasting, drinking, dancing, and wrestling. The priest makes offerings and sacrifices to ensure plenteous crops and rains. The Yinna festival gives a chance for the youth to show their strength and bravery. After much food and drink, the youth visit and dance in the homes of others their age.
What are their beliefs? A small number of Warji have adopted Islam as their religion, but most still follow their traditional ethnic beliefs. In times of trouble or sickness, the people worship family and clan ancestors. Every Warji ward has a pile of logs that serves as a shrine to represent the family dodo. Periodically, members of the ward pour blood and beer over the shrine and perform rites. Villagers only occasionally visit other shrines located in the dense forests.
Aside from worshiping their ancestors and sacrificing to spirits and gods, the Warji also practice magic and exorcism.
What are their needs? More than improved roads or continuing education, the Warji need Jesus in their lives. A majority have not had an opportunity to hear the Gospel, and there are few Christian resources available to them. Prayer and missions work are greatly needed to give these people even a chance to know of a Savior.
Prayer Points * Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies working among the people.
* Pray that God will give Warji believers boldness to share Jesus with their own people.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Warji who will boldly declare the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a strong and growing Warji church for the glory of His name! * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.