The Puguli of Burkina Faso
The Puguli, or Pwa, are located primarily in the northwestern region of Ghana and southern Burkina Faso. They belong to a larger people group known as the Sissala. Some refer to both groups together as Sissala and consider them one because of their similarities in culture, location, history, and especially, language. The two groups speak similar languages from the Atlantic Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family.
The area of Burkina Faso in which the Puguli live consists of savanna grasslands dotted with scattered trees and scrub bushes. These territories were somewhat rejected and isolated from British influence during colonial rule in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Only in the town of Tamu in Sissala territory did the British establish a government station with modern facilities such as schools and hospitals. Like the Sissala, most Puguli lived outside the town in compact villages, where they lived in mud huts. Narrow paths connected their communities.
What are their lives like?
The Puguli economy is based on farming, with households producing their own food. Crops include millet, yams, peanuts, rice, and beans. Women care for household gardens, where vegetables such as okra, onions, tomatoes, and red peppers are grown. Farming is supplemented by the gathering of nuts and wild fruits, fishing in the rivers, and hunting. Also, animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens are raised.
The Puguli feel that being poor is a reflection on the entire kinship group as well as on the individual. Therefore, the whole household shares in the work duties. The elder men supervise and control the production and consumption of crops, while the younger men do the heavy farm work, such as clearing the land and tilling. Women may be called upon to help with planting, weeding, and carrying crops back home. Men also hunt and fish, produce medicines, and engage in wood carving and blacksmithing. Women prepare the food, care for the household and children, gather items from the bush, and make pottery.
Puguli villages are compact, ranging in size from 200 to 3,000 people. A village is composed of a number of compounds. These are households that include an extended family, or janwuo. The janwuo averages about fifty people and is divided into family households. Extended families that are related paternally live close to one another, separated only by narrow passageways. This compact organization provides for common defense and also for protection against wild animals and witches.
The birth of children brings joy to the Puguli and ensures the continuity of the extended family. When a girl gives birth to her first child, she is then considered a woman. Additional children further cement the bond between husband and wife and increase the woman's status. An infant is always near its mother and is coddled and shown affection by other family members, including the father. Since a baby can do no evil, it is very much loved and indulged. Girls remain with their mothers until they are married. Boys, on the other hand, live with a senior male member of the janwuo from the time they are six years old.
What are their beliefs?
Although some of the Puguli have become Muslim, most still follow their traditional ethnic religions. They believe that a supreme being, called Wiise, is the creator of all things. They believe that Wiise is very close to humans and observes every detail of their lives. However, his actual dwelling place is not known. They believe that their own moral behavior and rituals maintain the order of the universe; thus, the universe cannot exist without humans.
What are their needs?
The Puguli have no Christian resources available to them; however, one missions agency is currently working among them. Very few Puguli have become Christians, since the great majority of them have never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel. Much prayer and further evangelism is still needed to bring them to a saving knowledge of Christ.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send additional laborers to work among the Puguli of Burkina Faso.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agency that is targeting the Puguli.
- Pray that the Jesus film and Christian radio broadcasts will soon be available in the Puguli language.
- Ask the Lord to raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into their language.
- Pray that God will give the Puguli believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Puguli bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Puguli church for the glory of His name!
See also the following Gur groups:
The Jaan of Burkina Faso.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Puguli
- Country: Burkina Faso
- Their language: Puguli (Buguri)
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 2.9%
- Church members: 450
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 3,600 (24%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 11,400 (76%)
- Country: Burkina Faso
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 17
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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