Prayer Profile
The Biafada of Guinea-Bissau

[IMAGE] The Biafada of Guinea-Bissau are commonly regarded as a sub-group of the Tenda. They are located in the central southern region near Nalu and extend over the border into Guinea. The various peoples of this region of Africa are collectively known as the Sene-Gambians because most reside in Senegal and Gambia. Some, however, live in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Mauritania.

Most of Guinea-Bissau is a low-lying, swampy coastal plain. The land rises gradually to form a plateau region in the east. The maximum elevation of about 1,017 feet is found in the southeast. Within the country, there are about 30 different ethnic groups, the major ones being the Balante, the Fulani, the Pepel, the Malinke, and the Mandyak. Cape Verdians form a small, but significant, minority.

The official language of Guinea-Bissau is Portuguese, but Crioulo, a mixture of Portuguese and African, is more commonly spoken. The Biafada speak a Niger-Congo language that is also known as Biafada.

What are their lives like?
The early history of Guinea-Bissau is obscure, but some of the major ethnic groups of the country were apparently established there by the twelfth century. In 1446, the area was visited by a Portuguese slave trader and became an important slave center.

Like most of the people in West Africa, the Biafada are farmers. They grow a variety of crops, using very basic tools. Maize, manioc, and rice are the staples, but squash, melons, sweet potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes are also grown. Major tree crops include bananas, coconuts, mangoes, and papayas. The Biafada raise cattle, sheep, and goats but do not use their milk. Dogs and chickens are seen in almost every village. Hunting is of less importance than agriculture, but there is considerable gathering of wild fruits and roots; berries; and kola, shea, and palm nuts.

The Biafada live in extended family compounds, each consisting of a cluster of huts that are arranged in a circle around an open space. Often the entire compound is surrounded by a fence, hedge, or wall. The compounds usually adjoin to form compact villages. In general, the dwellings are round with mud walls and cone-shaped, thatched roofs. However, many local variations exist.

In the Biafada community, men hunt, fish, clear the land, and tend to the cattle. The women do the gathering and help some in the agricultural work. Chiefs exercise political authority in the villages. Succession usually passes to the next brother, or to the oldest son of the deceased chief's oldest sister.

Circumcision of males is practiced, and some female circumcision is also continued. These practices are mainly associated with initiation ceremonies at puberty and typically involve a period of instruction in an isolated "bush school." In years past, the Tenda (of whom the Biafada are a sub-group) practiced ceremonial cannibalism.

The Biafada tolerate premarital sexual freedom for girls and prefer cousins as marriage partners. A bride-price in livestock, commonly pigs, is paid, and often, premarital bride-service is also required. Polygyny (having more than one wife) occurs to only a limited extent. In such cases, however, each wife has her own hut, and the husband spends a fixed period with each on a rotation basis.

What are their beliefs?
A large percent of the population of Guinea-Bissau are ethnic religionists, following their traditional beliefs. About 41% (primarily the Fulani and Malinke) are Muslims. Only 11.3% of the people are Christians. Among the Biafada, about 70% are Sunni Muslims. The rest are either Christians or animists, believing that non-living objects have spirits.

What are their needs?
The Biafada are 6% Christian, but they are without any Christian resources in their own language. There are, however, three missions agencies currently working among them. Leadership and discipleship materials are needed to further the growth of the Church.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord of the harvest to send additional laborers to work among the Biafada of Guinea-Bissau.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint the efforts of the missions agency that is targeting the Biafada.
  • Pray that the Lord will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Biafada language.
  • Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Biafada who will openly proclaim the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will give the Biafada believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Biafada 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 Biafada church for the glory of His name!

See also the following related Group:
The Boin of Guinea

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Biafada
  • Country: Guinea-Bissau
  • Their language: Biafada
  • Population: (1990)21,100
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Sunni) 70%
    Ethnic religionist 20%
    Nonreligious 3.8%
  • Christians: 6%
  • Church members: 1,400
  • 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: 3
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 7,700 (33%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 3,000 (13%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 4,700 (20%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 15,700 (67%)
  • Country: Guinea-Bissau
  • Population: (1990) 964,000
    (1995) 1,072,700
    (2000) 1,192,400
  • Major peoples in size order: Balanta 26.4%
    Fulakunda 17.9%
    Mandyak 12.7%
    Mandinka 9.9%
    Guinean Mestico 9.1%
  • Major religions: Ethnic religionist 46.9%
    Muslim 44.3%
    Christian 8.2%
  • Number of denominations: 7

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

This profile may be copied and distributed without obtaining permission
as long as it is not altered, bound, published
or used for profit purposes.

[Home] [Calendar] [Country List]