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18th September Djibouti

Somali, Issa in Djibouti

Somali, IssaPhoto Source:  Copyrighted © 2023
MarosMatousek – Shutterstock  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name:Somali, Issa
Country:Djibouti
10/40 Window:Yes
Population:552,000
World Population:26,240,400
Primary Language:Somali
Primary Religion:Islam
Christian Adherents:0.20 %
Evangelicals:0.12 %
Scripture:Complete Bible
Online Audio NT:No
Jesus Film:Yes
Audio Recordings:Yes
People Cluster:Somali
Affinity Bloc:Horn of Africa Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Several million Somalis live scattered across eight countries in the northeastern portion of Africa and the Middle East. They are one of the most homogenous people groups in Africa, speaking a common language, adhering to a single faith and sharing a cultural heritage. Somalis first appeared in Africa around 1200 A.D. and began expanding westward and southward about 150 years later. They converted to Islam around 1550, under the influence of Arab traders. Today, the Issa branch of the Somali represent the largest ethnic group in Djibouti and make up nearly one half of the country’s total population. In 1884, the territory was occupied by France and given the name “French Somaliland.” It was not until 1979 before they regained their independence. Bordered by Ethiopia and Somalia, Djibouti has been greatly affected by tensions between the two countries. Refugees from both Ethiopia and Somalia have fled to Djibouti since 1975. Djibouti lies on the western shore of Bab-el-Mandeb, which is Arabic for “gate of tears.”

What Are Their Lives Like?

Djibouti, a tiny republic, is one of the hottest places on Earth, with an average temperature of nearly 90 degrees F. The yearly rainfall is less than five inches, so vegetation is sparse. They grow date palms on some small plots of irrigated land, and there is a small fishing industry; but these do very little to help the struggling economy. Salt extracted from the sea is Djibouti’s only major resource. They have to import most all consumer goods. This impoverished nation is dependent on foreign aid for survival. One-fourth of the Somalis in Djibouti have continued living as nomadic shepherds, even though less than one-tenth of the land is suitable for grazing their cattle, sheep and goats. Scorching heat, scarcity of water, and a shortage of grazing lands make life difficult for the nomads; however, poverty and a huge unemployment rate plague those in the cities. Somalis are usually characterized as being very individualistic; scornful of danger, hunger, or thirst; and constantly involved in blood feuds with other tribes and peoples. They speak the Somali language, although the official language of Djibouti is French. Nomads generally dwell in branch-framed, portable huts. They are covered with woven mats or boiled bark that has been pulled into fine strands and plaited. These may be carried from place to place on camels. Quality housing is in short supply in the cities. Malnutrition is severe, many have tuberculosis, and malaria is an epidemic. The basic building block of Somali society is the family. Each man has the right to be married to four women. The divorce rate is high. The mother raises the children, although the father takes part in their religious training. They strongly emphasize respect for one’s elders.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Issa Somalis in Djibouti are Sunni Muslims, and their faith is an integral part of daily life. In the cities, there are groups inspired by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood establishing a more orthodox form of Islam and criticizing the Djibouti government for its lack of moral standards. Somalis in Djibouti often seek out religious experts (wadaads) for blessings, charms or advice in worldly matters. These people depend upon good works to pay the penalty for their sins. They depend upon the spirit world for their daily needs because they regard Allah as too distant. They believe that Allah may determine their eternal salvation, but the spirits determine how well they live in their daily lives. Consequently, they must appease the spirits. They often use charms and amulets to help them with spiritual forces.

What Are Their Needs?

Life is difficult for both the city-dwellers and the nomads. Poor living conditions, a depressed economy, drought, malnutrition, and disease are among the problems the people face day after day. Educational opportunities are also extremely limited, with only one-tenth of school-age children receiving any education at all. There are no universities, and only about one-third of the adults can read. The greatest need of this people group is to hear and understand the infinite love of Almighty God who has paid the penalty of all their sins. They need to be set free from fear and domination of evil spirits that dominate their lives. Who will reach out to the Somalis in Djibouti?

Prayer Points

Ask Lord Jesus to raise up believing teachers who will work among the Issa Somalis and share Christ’s love with them. Ask God to grant favor and wisdom to mission agencies focusing on the Somali. Pray for effectiveness of the JESUS Film, Christian radio, and TV among them. Ask the Lord to raise up strong, reproducing church plants and disciple making movements among Issa Somali people in Djibouti.

Text Source:   Joshua Project 

Full Joshua Project profile at: www.joshuaproject.net/people_groups/14983/DJ

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