The Dirim of Nigeria
The Dirim, also known as the Dakka, are located in the Adamawa, Mambilla, and Muri divisions of Gongola state, Nigeria. Their language, also called Dirim, is part of the Niger-Congo language family. Many regard the Dirim as an offshoot of the larger Chamba group, with whom they share many similarities.
According to Chamba history, the Bata drove them from their original hometown in Lamurde Jongum to Chamba, a town at the base of the Alantika Hills. From there, the Chamba were once again driven out by the Bata, who forced them to the hills south of Chamba. From that point, the Chamba split into two groups, assimilating into areas inhabited by other tribes. One group became known as the Chamba of Donga, due to the region into which they moved. The other group became known as the Dirim, as a result of intermarriage and cultural influence from the Dirim tribe. The native Dirim so intermingled with the Chamba that the two groups are now considered one.
What are their lives like?
The Dirim are farmers, growing such crops as millet, sorghum, onions, maize, and sweet potatoes. They are known to practice crop rotation and to sometimes leave the land fallow. Many of the Dirim also possess a few cattle, which are valued for their ability to fertilize the land. Most also keep goats, sheep, dogs, and chickens. Men hunt, tend to the livestock, and do most of the fishing. The women help the men with the agricultural work and also perform domestic duties, which include preparing the meals and caring for the children.
Dirim villages are compact and surrounded by walls or hedges for protection. Within the villages are groups of enclosed family compounds, each containing several huts. Individual huts are round with mud walls and have cone-shaped, thatch roofs. Each village is led by a headman, whose office is hereditary. He settles disputes within the village and oversees village ceremonies.
The Dirim differ from other groups in their area in that their clans are matrilineal, tracing ancestry through the females. In addition, their clans are exogamous, meaning that they are free to marry outside their own clans. To the Dirim, it is taboo to marry someone from their mother's clan. Also unique to the Dirim is their practice of having monogamous marriages (one spouse), as compared to most other tribes in Africa, which commonly have two or more spouses. Adultery and divorce are rare among the Dirim, since the women live under close supervision with little opportunity to commit adultery.
A young man who desires to marry a certain girl gives her a ring and a bracelet, which she shows to her mother. The mother then discusses the eligibility of the suitor with her husband and brother. If they agree on the suitor, the girl is allowed to wear the jewelry that the young man gave her. When the girl reaches puberty, the young man moves into the compound of the girl's family and begins building a hut for her. Upon completion of the hut, the couple begin to live together as husband and wife.
What are their beliefs?
Although some of the Dirim have converted to Islam due to Muslim Fulani influence, nearly 80% of them still practice their traditional ethnic religion. Diviners exist among the Dirim and are said to know the future, communicate with the spirits, understand supernatural truths, and explain omens and superstitions. Religious rites are performed in honor of deceased ancestors, and family members of the deceased form cults or religious sects.
What are their needs?
Although there are two missions agencies currently working among the Dirim, they do not have access to any Christian resources. Most of the Dirim have not heard a clear presentation of the Gospel of Christ. There is a great need for the Bible to be translated into their language and then distributed among them. The Dirim would also greatly benefit from Christian radio broadcasts in their language. Prayer is the first step toward preparing the hearts of the Dirim to receive the Gospel.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to show the missions agencies working among the Dirim culturally relevant ways to reach them.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send additional missionaries to join the few who are already working among the Dirim.
- Pray for the Bible to be translated into their language and for literacy workers to teach them how to read the Word of God.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Dirim through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will use the Dirim believers to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Dirim bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will intercede for the Dirim.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Dirim church for the glory of His name!
See also the following Group:
The Cham-Mwana of Nigeria
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Dirim
- Country: Nigeria
- Their language: Dirim
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 4%
- Church members: 774
- 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: 2
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 5,600 (29%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 13,800 (71%)
- Country: Nigeria
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 114
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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