THE BEJA OF SUDAN
What kind of people spend 15-25 percent of their monthly income on coffee, sing songs about camels, have a glorious crown of fuzzy hair atop their heads, and speak the Ta-Bedawie language? The Beja, a nomadic people group with a million and a half members who live in the northeastern portion of the African nation of Sudan.
Sudan has been the homeland of the Beja since the days of the pharaohs 4,000 years ago. In general, the Beja have always rejected authority and greatly value their nomadic freedom. For the most part, they have not changed their lifestyle or practices in the last 1,500 years. Most Beja are nomadic herders of camels and goats, although some have adopted sedentary lifestyles in the towns and cities of eastern Sudan.
With no settled homes, they live in tents made from woven palm matting and exist mainly on a diet of milk and grain, supplemented occasionally by meat and sugar. The Beja like to sing and play musical instruments, in particular the rababa, which is similar to a guitar. Coffee, or jabana, is very important to the Beja. Drinking coffee involves relaxing with friends and talking.
Although the Beja are Muslim, Islam is not deep rooted or well understood by the Beja. They continue to be highly concerned with the traditional belief of jinn, or bad spirits, which they believe, exist everywhere and cause sickness and accidents. Sharia, or Muslim religious law, is of some importance for settled Beja but matters little to the nomads. Salif, customary Beja law, is more important, and it emphasizes the mandate of hospitality and provides for rates and modes of compensation for all manner of physical injury.
1. Pray that the hearts of the Beja people will be open to the message of Jesus Christ and His forgiveness and salvation.
2. Pray that many people will follow God's leadership to minister among the Beja people.
3. Pray that God will raise up many intercessors to pray for the salvation of the Beja.
4. Pray for the work of translating portions of the Bible into the Beja language, Ta_Bedawie.
By Hugh Provost