Introduction / History
The Republic of Chad is a large, thinly populated country in north-central Africa. The Hausa are the largest ethnic group in West Africa, and a majority of them are Muslims.
The Hausa are originally from an area known as "Hausaland," a region covering 75,000 square miles and straddling the borders of Niger and Nigeria. The Hausa have migrated to Chad during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
From 1900 until 1960, Chad was under French rule. Independence was gained in 1960; however, civil war and political conflict have divided the country along religious and ethnic lines. Because of the continuing civil war and the lack of economic resources, Chad has become one of the least developed nations in the world.
Some have wrongly assumed that Boko Haram comes from the Hausa because the term itself is from the Hausa language. But Boko Haram is mainly from Kanuri and Fulani as well as other tribes.
What are their lives like?
Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, Hausaland Muslim pilgrims traveled through Chad and Sudan on their way to Mecca, Saudi Arabia (the "holy city" of Islam). Due to the long distance and lack of transportation, the pilgrimage could last for several years. The temptation to settle in one of the towns along the route was often overwhelming. Thus, many never reached Mecca, but settled in Chad.
Every Hausa man born in Chad commonly says, "We are pilgrims." Even those who have been settled in Chad for three or more generations cling to this ideal. They use it to explain the distinctness of the Hausa culture. As a result, the non-Hausa population has regarded them with both scorn and respect; scorn for their willingness to do menial tasks, and respect for their devotion to Islam and their trade-oriented society.
Most Hausa live in rectangular, flat-roofed mud houses in the cities. They often work as cattle brokers, market guides, ship crewmen, or transport agents. Others become tailors, blacksmiths, tanners, weavers, and barbers.
The Hausa usually wear loose flowing gowns and trousers. The gowns have wide openings on both sides for ventilation. The trousers are loose at the top and center, but rather tight around the ankles. Leather sandals and turbans are also typical dress for the Hausa.
Hausa women are given less educational opportunities than men. In fact, they are often confined to the home, except for visits to relatives, ceremonies, and the workplace. They are primarily responsible for tending to the children and doing the household chores such as providing the water and fuel needed for cooking. In addition, they are expected to invest the rest of their time in some type of trade. The money earned is used in financing their daughters' dowries.
What are their beliefs?
The Hausa of Chad are nearly all Muslim. Daily Islamic prayers can be performed either individually or corporately. Only on Friday, for the noon prayer, does the law require the believer to pray in a congregation. This renews his political and Islamic allegiance. Many of the urban Hausa have established neighborhood mosques where they meet regularly for prayer, discussions, and fellowship.
Hausa traders first brought Islam to Chad, and their commitment to their faith was strong and persuasive. Today, however, many of their religious practices have been mixed with local traditions. For example, they believe in a variety of spirits, both good and bad. Traditional rituals include making sacrificial offerings to the spirits and to the spirit possessed. The Hausa priests, or malams, claim to have magical cures for every aspect of human concern. They are also experts in numerology and soothsaying.
What are their needs?
The Hausa culture is strongly linked to Islam, making it difficult to reach this people group with the Gospel. Islam has been carried throughout West Africa by Hausa traders and priests, and nearly everyone expects a Hausa to be Muslim.
Ask the Lord to send long term laborers to live among the Hausa and share the love of Christ with them.
Pray that God will raise up faithful intercessors who will stand in the gap for the Hausa.
Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Muslim Hausa who have become followers of Christ.
Pray that their traditional Muslim culture will soften, creating open doors for the Gospel to be preached among them.
Ask the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of the Hausa towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Hausa.