The Nzwani Comorians of Comoros
The official name of the islands is the Federal and Islamic Republic 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 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.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The basic diet of the Comorian 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. In town, a Comorian man will typically wear a white cotton garment and a knee-length shirt, sometimes with a white jacket and a 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. Other women prefer wearing black robes that cover their heads.
Polygamy (the practice of having more than one spouse) is an acceptable practice among the Nzwani Comorian. Children are expected to help with the farming, fishing, and caring of the animals. For recreation, the Nzwani Comorian enjoy dancing, singing, and playing instruments, especially horns and drums.
About 27% of all the Comorian live in cities; but whether in rural or urban areas, housing on the island is generally of poor quality. Although French and Arabic are the official languages of the islands, the Nzwani Comorian speak their own Swahili dialect.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Traditionally, the Nzwani Comorian have been very resistant to any kind of religious change; however, they are gradually becoming more receptive to other ideas.
What Are Their Needs?
There is a shortage of hospitals and doctors, and many people suffer from illnesses and chronic malnutrition. Because of a poor water supply, good hygiene is lacking. Such problems contribute to a high death rate, especially among young children.
The spiritual needs of the Nzwani Comorian are even greater than their physical needs. Though freedom of religion exists on the islands, evangelism is not well received by these Shafiite Muslims. Their commitment to Islam, coupled with involvement in occult practices, has made these people difficult to reach.
Two missions agencies are presently working among the Nzwani Comorian. Unfortunately, Christian resources are limited. Consequently, the number of Nzwani Comorian believers remains small. Prayer is the first step toward seeing these people reached with the Good News that Jesus Christ came to set them free.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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