Bassari of Guinea
People Name: Bassari
Country: Guinea
Language: Oniyan
Population: 20,000
Unreached: No
People Cluster: Atlantic
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
% Adherents: 6.00 %
% Evangelical: 0.25 %
Progress Status: 2.0
Profile provided by:

Joshua Project
PO Box 62614
Colorado Springs, CO 80962
United States


Introduction / History
The Boin or Bassari are commonly regarded as a sub-group of the Tenda. They are located in the Koundara region and around Youkounkoun, extending to the border of Senegal. Their language is a member of the Niger-Congo language family. The various peoples of this region of Africa are collectively known as the Sene-Gambians because most reside in Senegal and Gambia. Some, however, live in Guinea, Mali, and Mauritania. Guinea is composed of many diverse ethnic groups. As a result, the country has eight national languages: Malinke, Susu, Fulani, Kissi, Basari, Loma, Koniagi, and Kpelle. The most numerous of the people groups, the Fulani, are concentrated mainly in the Fouta Djallon region and compose about one-third of the population. The other major peoples belong to the Mande group. They include the Malinke of northeastern Guinea (less than one-third) and the Susu of the coastal area (about one-fifth).

What are their lives like?
Like most of the people of Guinea, they are farmers. They grow a variety of crops, using very basic tools. Maize, manioc and rice are the staples, but squash, melons, sweet potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes are also grown. Major tree crops include bananas, coconuts, mangoes, and papayas. They raise cattle, sheep, and goats but do not use their milk. Dogs and chickens are seen in almost every village. Hunting is of less importance than agriculture, but there is considerable gathering of wild fruits and roots, berries, and nuts (kola, shea, and palm).

They live in extended family compounds, each consisting of a cluster of huts usually arranged in a circle around an open space. Often, the entire compound is surrounded by a fence, a hedge, or a wall. The compounds usually adjoin to form compact villages. In general, the dwellings are round with mud walls and cone-shaped, thatched roofs. However, many local variations exist.

In the community men hunt, fish, clear the land, and tend the cattle. The women do the gathering and help in the agricultural work. Chiefs exercise political authority in the villages. Succession usually passes to the next brother or to the oldest son of the deceased chief's oldest sister.

Circumcision of males is practiced and some female circumcision is also continued. These practices are mainly associated with initiation ceremonies at puberty, and typically involve a period of instruction in an isolated "bush school." In years past, the Tenda (of whom they are a sub-group) had been known to practice ceremonial cannibalism.

They tolerate premarital sexual freedom for girls and prefer cousins as marriage partners. A bride-price in livestock, commonly pigs, is paid, and often, premarital bride-service is also required. Polygyny (having more than one wife) occurs to only a limited extent. In such cases, however, each wife has her own hut, and the husband spends a fixed period with each on a rotation basis.

The mineral wealth of Guinea makes the economy of the country potentially one of the strongest in Africa. More than one-fourth of the known reserves of high-grade bauxite ore is found in Guinea. Sizable deposits of iron ore also exist. Other known mineral resources include diamonds, gold, cobalt, nickel, uranium, petroleum, and platinum. Unfortunately, this potential wealth has not yet been developed, and the quality of life in Guinea is still very poor.

What are their beliefs?
The great majority of the population of Guinea is Muslim while the rest follow traditional ethnic beliefs. Christians form only a very small portion of the total population.

What are their needs?
Fervent prayer is the key to seeing this group reached.

Prayer Points
* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send missionaries to share the Good News with this tribe.
* Ask the Lord to save key leaders among them who will boldly proclaim the Gospel.
* Ask God to raise prayer warriors who will stand in the gap for them.
* Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among them.

Bassari of Guinea