The Ngazija Comorian of the Comoros
Until 1975, all the islands belonged to France. At that time, the three largest islands declared their independence; but Mayotte, the fourth island, chose to remain a French possession.
The Comorians are a blend of settlers from the past: Iranian traders, mainland Africans, Arabs, and Malagasy. Comorian communities can be found on all of the islands in the Comoros chain as well as in Madagascar. Due to the poor economic conditions, the islands receive monetary and technical support from other countries.
What are their lives like?
The Comoros Island is very poor and undeveloped. The basic diet of the Comorians consists of rice, potatoes, corn, fish, coconuts, and bananas. Other crops that are grown are sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, and pineapples.
Although young people wear Western style clothing, traditional clothing is still common among the adults. While in town, a Comorian man will typically wear a white cotton garment and a knee-length shirt, sometimes with a white jacket and white skull cap. Out of town, a long cloth sarong (colorful skirt) is worn. Most women wear long, colorful cotton dresses with bright shawls as face coverings. Others prefer wearing black robes that cover their heads.
Polygamy is an acceptable practice among the Comorians. Children are expected to help with family duties such as farming, fishing, and caring for the animals. For recreation they enjoy dancing, singing, and playing instruments, especially horns and drums.
About 27% of the Comorians live in cities; but whether in rural or urban areas, housing on the island is generally poor. Although French and Arabic are the official languages of the island Comoros, Swahili is the native language spoken by the Comorians.
What are their beliefs?
Traditionally, the Comorians have been very resistant to any kind of religious change; however, they are gradually becoming more indifferent.
What are their needs?
The spiritual needs of the Comorians are even greater. Though there is freedom of religion on the islands, evangelism is not well received by these Shafiite Muslims. Their commitment to Islam, coupled with involvement in occult practices, has made the Comorians difficult to reach.
There are presently two mission agencies working among the Comorians. Unfortunately, their resources are limited. Only portions of the Bible have yet been translated into Swahili. Traditional Islamic mentality has made the people difficult to reach. Consequently, there are only 55 known Comorian believers.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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