Prayer Profile
The Gwandara of Nigeria

[IMAGE] The Gwandara are one of the Plateau Chadic-speaking peoples of Nigeria, living mainly in the Akwaja, Lafia, Keffi, and Nassarawa divisions of the Plateau Province. Traditionally, they were grouped with the Hausa people as inhabitants of the city of Kano.

Gwandara history relates that Islam was introduced into Kano in the fourteenth century. However, Gwandara, the younger brother of the ruling chief refused to convert to Islam. After a warning by the chief to convert or be enslaved, Gwandara took his followers and traveled southward to Gwagwa. Subsequent Muslim attacks led to yet another dispersion farther south.

The Gwandara finally settled in the Jukun territory during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Jukun had become a type of refugee zone for diverse peoples also fleeing their communities for various reasons, with the Gwandara dominating politically in the region for many years.

What are their lives like?
The Gwandara have lived in close contact with diverse ethnic groups in the Benue basin region and culturally resemble both the Gwari and Yeskwa peoples. They often marry with the Yeskwa; however, their dances and religion are similar to those of the Arago.

Most Gwandara are subsistence farmers with their farms located in the bush outside of their villages. Huts are built in a circle to form the compound that houses an extended family. There is only one entrance into each compound because each hut is connected to the next by a corn bin or granary. Each village has a chief who is responsible for handling village affairs and settling village disputes.

Gwandara men usually wear Hausa-style gowns. Most women wear cloths, although some wear loose strings around their hips with bundles of leaves hanging in front and in back.

Palm oil is important to the Gwandara because of its many uses. Therefore, a fair amount of it is obtained and kept in each village or sold in markets. Another major product sold in the market is mats. (Each mat takes four days to make.) Beer and tobacco are both important in Gwandara life, however, most Gwandara neither smoke pipes nor drink in excess, like many other groups in this part of Africa.

Young Gwandara men work on their fathers' farms until they marry, which is usually around age seventeen or older. Girls are betrothed as young children, but before reaching marriageable age, they have the right to break off the engagement, in which case the bride price is returned to the suitor.

Ritual dances are an important aspect of the Gwandara society. One dance is the "good and evil" dance. Old men sit in a circle and the personification of the spirits of good and evil—concealed under a long sack and wearing a high conical hat—whirl around them. Stepping to the beat of a drum, he tells the elders to get up and follow him. When the personified spirit dances, they all dance, and if anyone is struck by the knob that hangs from the spirit's hat, evil will surely befall him or his family. Another similar circular step-dance called "joy" is also practiced. The rhythm for this dance is made by the ornaments worn on the arms and legs of the dancers.

What are their beliefs?
Among the Gwandara, one supreme god is worshipped and goats and sheep are sacrificed to it. Other lesser gods for each village are also worshipped, usually in open circular spaces inside groves approached through avenues of palms. Each village has two temples, which are essentially mud huts containing the village god.

Many Gwandara believe that they possess the power to turn themselves into hyenas, which supposedly respect the Gwandara.

What are their needs?
Unfortunately, the Gwandara have no Christian resources available to them. Bible translation in their language is greatly needed. Much prayer is also needed so that the Gwandara might have a chance to know a real Savior.

Prayer Points

  • Pray that the Lord will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible and the Jesus film into the Gwandara language.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the four missions agencies that are targeting the Gwandara.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to prepare the hearts of the people for the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Gwandara through dreams and visions. Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Gwandara 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 Gwandara church for the glory of His name!

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Gwandara
  • Country: Nigeria
  • Their language: Gwandara
  • Population: (1990) 45,400
    (1995) 52,800
    (2000) 60,800
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionist 88%
    Muslim (Sunni) 10%
  • Christian: 2%
  • Church members: 1,056
  • 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: 4
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 15,300 (29%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 4,200 (8%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 11,100 (21%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 37,500 (71%)
  • Country: Nigeria
  • Population: (1990) 96,153,800
    (1995) 111,721,000
    (2000) 128,785,600
  • Major peoples in size order: Hausa 18.5%
    Yoruba 18.5%
    Igbo 14.1%
    Toroobe Fulani 4.9%
    Yerwa Kanuri 3%
  • Major religions: Christians 50.6%
    Muslims 44.6%
    Ethnic Religionists 4.5%
  • Number of denominations: 114

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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