The Hausa of Nigeria
Because the Hausa have been heavily involved in long distance trading for many centuries, Hausa communities can also be found in other West African nations such as Chad, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast.
Although English is recognized as the country's official language, Hausa, the native language of the Hausa people, is rapidly becoming the chief language of northern Nigeria. The Hausa are very influential in West Africa, both culturally and politically. God's heart is to see them become a strong Christian influence as well.
What are their lives like?
Seventy percent of the Hausa live in rural farm villages with populations that may range from 2,000 to 12,000. Their homes are generally made of grass or dried mud with thatched roofs. Only the "well-to-do" can be found living in modern homes or apartment buildings in the city. Most of the Hausa are farmers, herdsmen, or traders. Cocoa, peanuts, palm oil, cotton, and rubber are grown for sell or trade; while corn, rice, beans, and yams are grown for consumption. The farmers depend heavily on nearby cities for trade opportunities. Most of the villagers cannot survive solely as farmers or herdsmen, but must also hold factory jobs to adequately provide for their families.
In comparison to some other African tribes, the Hausa have reasonable standards of health care, diet, shelter, electricity, and education. However, life for the Hausa is still very difficult. For example, nearly one-third of the people are unemployed, and only about half of the population can read and write. The average life expectancy of a Nigerian is only 56 years.
Within the Hausa's social structure, individuals are classified as either being commoners or chiefs, depending on which profession they hold and the amount of wealth they possess. In marriage relationships, close relatives, preferably cousins, are chosen as partners. In Nigerian terms, a woman is almost always defined as someone's daughter, wife, mother, or widow, and is given less educational opportunities than men. In fact, they are often confined to the home, except for visits to relatives, ceremonies, and the workplace. For the most part, they do not work in the fields, but are responsible for preparing meals in the homes. There is a large population of single women, especially in the cities, due to the high divorce rate.
What are their beliefs?
In the "holy wars" of 1804 and 1808, the Hausa were conquered by the Fulani, their strongly Islamic neighbors. At that time, many of the villagers were either forced or bribed into becoming Muslim. They adopted some of Islam's basic outward behaviors and rituals, but did not "sell out" as many of the urban Hausa did. For that reason, many of the rural Hausa today are only superficially Muslim.
The Hausa culture is strongly linked to Islam, which makes it difficult to penetrate this people group with the Gospel. They are very prejudice against the Christians of southern Nigeria, and there is intense persecution of the Hausa who have become Christians.
Islam has been carried throughout West Africa by Hausa traders and priests, and nearly everyone expects a Hausa to be Muslim. This could be one of the main reasons why the Hausa stay so resistant to the Gospel.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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