The Toala of Indonesia
The Toala live in eastern central region of Sulawesi (or Celebes), one of the major Indonesian islands. Sulawesi is a large, crab-shaped island that is generally mountainous and marked by volcanic cones. The Toala live near the valleys of the Poso, Laa, and Kalaena Rivers.
Numerous other tribes live among the Toala, all of whom are similar in religion and culture. They also all speak dialects of one common language. Unfortunately, while most of the other groups are highly Christianized, the Toala have remained staunch Muslims.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Most Toala raise all of their own food. Rice, the major crop, is planted in terraced paddies and harvested by hand. Single metal-bladed plows drawn by water buffalo or men are still in use. Toala farmers also grow maize, chilies, beans, yams, and potatoes. Cash crops include coffee and cloves. They also gather snails, eels, and small fish from unplanted wet rice fields. Domestic animals include chickens, pigs, and water buffaloes, which are sacrificed on ritual occasions.
Villages tend to be small and are located either on hilltops or scattered along the plains. As many as four to six families may live together in one house. Villages are based on local "kin groups," with all of the members being related by blood or marriage. Emphasis is placed on respect for one's elders, diligence, and the importance of the family over one's individual and personal needs.
In the past, some marriages of the aristocracy were polygynous (having many wives), but today most are monogamous (having only one spouse). Once married, a person could choose to live in the village of his father, mother, or spouse. Some marriages are still arranged by the parents; but today, most young people are allowed to select their own mates.
Adoption is a very common occurrence among the Toala. Children are reared by both their parents and their siblings. It is believed that family ties can be extended and strengthened by allowing relatives and friends to adopt one's children. In such cases, the children will often move back and forth between the households of their adoptive and biological parents.
The Toala are known for their elaborately carved houses and rice barns, as well as life-size statues of certain wealthy, deceased aristocrats.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Among the Toala, the funeral is the most critical event in life. They believe that this ritual allows the deceased to leave the world of the living and proceed to the next. Funeral ceremonies vary in length and complexity, depending on one's wealth and status.
What Are Their Needs?
There is a single missions agency currently targeting the Toala. Unfortunately, they have access to very few Christian resources. The Bible has not yet been printed in their native language, Toala-palili. Neither are there any local Christian radio or television broadcasts available. Who will tell the precious Toala that life can only be found through Jesus Christ?Prayer Points
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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