The Somali people
Somalia is located on the north-east region of African commonly known as the “Horn of Africa”. The name, Somalia, is derived from the words, “so maal,” which literally means, “Go milk a beast for yourself!” To the Somali, this is actually a rough expression of hospitality.
Somalia has a tropical climate that varies little throughout the year. With an average rainfall of less than 11 inches, droughts are a common occurrence. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, droughts in the northern region forced the Somali nomads to migrate farther south.
Somali society is based on the nuclear family, which consists of a husband, wife, and children. A typical Somali family owns a herd of sheep or goats and a few burden camels. The more camels a man has, the greater his prestige. Having an abundant supply of food is a status symbol among the clans. A family’s prestige is determined by the frequency of its feasts, the number of people invited, and the quality and quantity of food served.
The Somali consider themselves warriors. The men often leave the women in charge of herds so that they might train to become more effective fighters. They are a very individualistic people, sharply divided by clans. Fights often occur between the clans, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths.
The Somali first converted to Islam around 1550, under the influence of Arab traders. Villagers and urban settlers frequently turn to the Wadaad, a religious expert, for blessings, charms, and advice in worldly matters. Many Somalis believe that many spirits live in the world, and that evil spirits bring sickness by possessing their victims. Some cults have formed in an attempt to appease the evil spirits.
Less than 20% of Somali children attend school, and 60% of adults are illiterate. This is not surprising since they did not have a written script until 1972. Although the Bible is available in their language, few can read it. Perhaps Christian teachers will be the key to reaching Somalia with the Gospel.
- Ask God to grant favour and wisdom to the missions agencies that are targeting the Somali.
- Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes via radio and television to Somali.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.