Introduction / History The Gurenne are located in south central Burkina Faso and across the border in Ghana, just west of the Red Volta River. The terrain is grassland and bush with sparse vegetation. It is a flat country with only an occasional range of hills, and patches of sand are found throughout the area. In the shade, the average temperature is 85°F. During the dry season, the climate is hot and dry, and the crops do not grow well.
The origin of the Gurenne is not clear; however, some believe that they came from near Navrongo in Ghana. Their language, called Gurenne or Grunshi, is a Gur language and is taught in the schools. Hausa is used as a secondary and trade language, since the Hausa exert much influence over the peoples of the region.
The health and educational facilities of the Gurenne are better than average for the area. Besides primary and middle schools in the larger villages, there are also vocational schools and a nursing college nearby.
What are their lives like? The Gurenne are mostly farmers who grow crops such as millet, guinea corn, beans, and rice. During the rainy season, both men and women supplement the crops by fishing in the streams and rivers. Younger women gather shea nuts for their oil and collect other items from the forest. The older women cut elephant grass and use it to make mats and baskets. Other crafts include making rope, crafting bows and arrows, working with leather, and producing pottery.
Nearly every village has a small market in which items such things as matches, soap, salt, livestock, fish, fruit, and bows and arrows are available. In the larger markets, merchants come from outside the area, bringing bread, sugar, medicines, and second-hand clothing.
Gurenne marriages today are seldom arranged. A man may choose for himself whom he would like to marry, and the girl has the right to refuse. The man must pay the girl's family four cows, two goats, a red rooster, and a guinea fowl as a bride-price. Some men have more than one wife and usually marry their second wife by age 35.
Gurenne huts are usually circular with walls made of mud. Sometimes they are waterproofed with locust-bean pods and cow manure. Walls may be decorated with geometric designs, and the dirt floors are beaten smooth and hard. A number of huts together form a compound in which an extended family lives. The huts are built in a circle surrounded by a wall. In the center of the huts is a yard where the family's cattle are kept.
In the past, the Gurenne decorated themselves with tattoos, tribal markings, and jewelry. Today, some still continue these practices. Women may pierce their upper and lower lips and insert a bone. Ears may also be pierced and ear-straws inserted. Sometimes brass anklets are worn.
What are their beliefs? Although a portion of the Gurenne are Muslim, most follow their traditional ethnic religion. They believe in a number of gods and a chief god who reigns above the others. Shrines are located throughout the villages and in houses. There, sacrifices and prayers are made to ensure plentiful harvests, good health, and other such necessities. After the millet and guinea corn harvests, ceremonies occur at the shrines.
People perceived as witches are feared, and protective remedies are sought to keep them away. Soothsayers also exist among the Gurenne. They make sacrifices, see visions, and are associated with chiefs.
Ancestor worship plays a large role in Gurenne traditional religion. When an adult dies, it is believed that he will join his ancestors. Their spirits are believed to guard the living, and they are worshipped and called upon in times of crisis.
What are their needs? Although some have had an opportunity to hear the Gospel, much more work remains to be done. Prayer is especially needed to bring the Gurenne to salvation through Jesus Christ.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to work among the Gurenne of Burkina Faso.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Gurenne.
* Pray that God will use Gurenne believers to share Christ 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 bring forth strong and growing fellowships of believers for the glory of His name!