The Mwali of the Comoros Islands
The Mwali Comorian are a blend of settlers from the past: Iranian traders, mainland Africans, Arabs, and Malagasy. Because of poor economic conditions, the islands receive monetary and technical support from other countries.
In 1975, all the islands of the Comoros, with the exception of Mayotte, declared their independence from France, who had ruled them since 1947. The islands then became known as the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The islands of Moheli and Anjouan are very poor and undeveloped. The basic diet of the Mwali Comorian consists of rice, potatoes, corn, fish, coconuts, and bananas. Other crops that are grown are sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, and pineapples.
Although many of the young people now wear Western style clothing, traditional clothing is still common among the adults. 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. When he goes out of town, he wears a long cloth sarong (colorful skirt). Most women wear long, colorful cotton dresses, with bright shawls as face coverings.
Polygamy (the practice of having more than one spouse) is an acceptable practice among the Mwali Comorian. Children are expected to help with the farming, fishing, and caring of the animals. For recreation, the Mwali Comorian enjoy dancing, singing, and playing instruments, especially horns and drums.
About 25% of the Mwali Comorian are literate and speak either Swahili, French, and/or Arabic as a second language. Their language is a dialect of Swahili and a part of the Niger-Congo linguistic family. French and Arabic are the official languages of the islands.What Are Their Beliefs?
The majority of the Mwali Comorian are Shafiite Muslim, yet mosque attendance is very low. Mixed with their Islamic practices is a strong involvement in occultism and spirit possession.
Traditionally, the Mwali Comorian have been very resistant to any kind of religious change; however, they are gradually becoming more receptive.
What Are Their Needs?
The spiritual needs of the Mwali Comorian are even greater than their physical needs. Though there is freedom of religion on the islands, evangelism is not well received by these Shafiite Muslims. Their commitment to Islam, along with their involvement in occult practices, has made the Mwali Comorian difficult to reach.
Only portions of the Bible have been translated into their Swahili dialect. Their Islamic mentality has made it difficult to reach these people. Consequently, there are very few known believers.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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