The Nubian of Central Africa
A cluster of 7 Nubian Tribes in 5 countries
From the 1500's until the 1800's, the Ottoman Empire encroached upon the Nubia region. As a result, many Nubians migrated to remote areas along the Nile. Distinct groups evolved and were named according to their locations. For example, those who settled near the Wadi Kenuz became knows as the Kenuzi; those who settled in Dongola became known as the Dongolawi.
In the 1960's, many of the Nubian villages were flooded as a result of the construction of the Aswan High Dam. About 100,000 Nubians were forced to resettle in "New Nubia," 20 miles north of Aswan. Others relocated in Uganda and Kenya. Most Nubian groups speak their own dialect of the Nubian language. However, many also speak Arabic, which is the common language of business and trade. Although their languages are different, each group is identical in social, economic, and cultural organization.
What Are Their Lives Like?
In old Nubia, men migrated to the big cities to find work, while the women farmed the land, cared for the animals, and did household chores. Today, since the land is located far from their dwellings, men do most of the field work while the women work at the home. Some women have also found employment as schoolteachers, public service workers, and seamstresses. Some of the men now own grocery stores or drive cabs.
The typical Nubian house is very spacious, with several large rooms that are able to accommodate the extended family members and guests. In the center of each home is an open courtyard. The front of the house is colorfully painted with geometric patterns. Most of the paintings and decorations on the homes have religious connotations. The colorful designs are a distinctive and admired feature of Nubian culture.
The literacy rate among Nubians is high in comparison to their rural Egyptian neighbors. Primary and secondary schools have been set up in New Nubia, and there are also teacher-training facilities in the area. In addition to education, policies, radio and television are other ways in which socialization takes place among the Nubians.
For centuries, the Nubians often held lengthy religious and agricultural ceremonies. However, since relocation, the ceremonies have been shortened and are now limited to the villages. During these ceremonies, the Nubians express themselves through singing, dancing, and beating drums.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The traditional beliefs of the Nubians were centered on the spirit of the Nile. The Nile is believed to have life-sustaining power and to hold the power of life and death within it. The people believe that the river is endowed with angels, sheiks (religious leaders), and other powerful beings. The sheiks are sought daily for their advice in the areas of health, fertility, and marriage.
The Kenuzi Nubians have an annual festival known as the "Saints Day Celebration," or moulid. This holiday reinforces the history of the Kenuzi. Gifts are presented at the ancestral shrines in the fulfillment of a promise made the previous year. Colorful processions are held during this time of celebration. Dancing, singing, and feasting are also included in the festivities. The moulid is still celebrated in New Nubia each year.
What Are Their Needs?
The Nubians in Egypt have only portions of the Bible written in their language. Only one missions agency is currently working among them. Intense prayer, increased evangelism efforts, and additional Christian resources are necessary to reach these tribes who were once a Christian people.Prayer Points
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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