The Bobo Fing of Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d'Ivoire, or Ivory Coast, is home to approximately 100 distinct ethnic groups. The 16,400 Bobo Fing are an agricultural people living mainly in the Bobo region of the country. They are closely related to a number of other groups in the area, and their language, Bobo, is part of the Niger-Congo language family.
It seems that ancestors of most of the present population of Côte d'Ivoire moved into the area in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They arrived from the northeast and east, where strong tribal kingdoms flourished. In the fifteenth century, Portuguese explorers reached the coast and began trading in slaves and ivory.
Europeans did not penetrate inland until the 1830's when the French signed treaties with coastal rulers. As part of the French expansion, Côte d'Ivoire was made a colony in 1893. The French were bitterly resisted, however, and frequent revolts occurred.
What are their lives like?
Very little is known about the Bobo Fing; thus, some assumptions have been made regarding their lifestyle, based on their location and related groups. The Bobo Fing are farmers who grow millet, sorghum, and other crops. Crop rotation and some irrigation techniques are used. Small numbers of cattle and other animals are also are kept. Hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants provide additional food for the Bobo Fing.
Bobo Fing settlements are comprised of a small number of mud huts with cone-shaped roofs made of palm leaves or thatch. These huts are grouped irregularly around a center court that serves as a meeting place. In a particular locality, a clan consisting of a local lineage dominates. Many settlements are actually an extended family acting as an economic unit. Each extended family has a headman who offers sacrifices to their ancestors. The headman is succeeded by his oldest sister's eldest son, who leaves his own compound to assume his new role. Each village (a number of settlements) has a religious chief and several headmen who handle village affairs and disputes.
Many of the Bobo Fing men have more than one wife. The levirate (compulsory marriage of a widow to her dead husband's brother) and the sororate (compulsory marriage of a woman to her dead or barren sister's husband) are commonly practiced. Most girls are betrothed while they are quite young. Marriages are arranged by either the father or the extended family's headman. When a man marries, his bride may join him or remain in her father's home. If she remains with her father, her daughters stay with her, but her sons join their fathers at a young age.
Bobo Fing social structure is relatively democratic without rigid classes. However, slavery was once present in the area, and despised castes of blacksmiths and leather workers still exist. Their society is patrilineal, with lines of descent and inheritances traced through the males. Private property is passed to the eldest son, and household property, to the father's younger brother. Married sons live in the household of their fathers.
What are their beliefs?
About 70% of the Bobo Fing still practice various forms of animism, believing that non-living objects have spirits. In particular, ancestor worship (praying to deceased relatives for help and guidance) is practiced. It is believed that the supreme god is too distant to worship directly; therefore, the only way to serve or worship him is through a spirit. Often they worship a statue or other object that is believed to "house" a spirit. In return, the spirit gives the worship to the supreme god.
The growth of Christianity in Côte d'Ivoire suffers from the quick rise and fall of prophetic sects, but about 30% of the population is Christian (mostly Roman Catholic or Methodist). Only 5% of the Bobo Fing are Christian, and Islam is followed by 25% of them.
What are their needs?
There is religious freedom in Côte d'Ivoire, and the government is sympathetic to missions activity. Currently, one missions agency is working among the Bobo Fing. Prayer for the leadership of the Church and the spiritual growth of believers is an important priority.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send missionaries to work among the Bobo Fing.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint the efforts of the missions agency that is targeting the Bobo Fing.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts and the Jesus film will be produced in the Bobo language.
- Pray that God will use the believers in Cote d'Ivoire to share Christ with the Bobo Fing.
- Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Bobo Fing who will boldly declare the Gospel.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Bobo Fing bound for many generations.
- 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 Bobo Fing church for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Bobo Fing
- Country: Côte d'Ivoire
- Their language: Bobo
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 5%
- Church members: 820
- Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
- 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: 6,100 (37%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 10,300 (63%)
- Country: Côte d'Ivoire
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 36
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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