The Siamou of Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso consists of an extensive plateau that is slightly inclined toward the south. It is home to about 79 distinct ethnic groups, and about 90% of the population is rural, living in some 7,700 villages. The country has three principal rivers: the Black Volta, Red Volta, and White Volta.
The 16,900 Siamou (also known as the Seme) are located in Kenedougou Province in western Burkina Faso. The Siamou are a part of the Kru, who are located primarily in Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia. Their language (also called Siamou) is part of the Kru sub-group of the Niger-Congo language family.
Little is known concerning the specific lifestyle and culture of the Siamou; thus, some assumptions have been made in this profile. We have not been able to discover why the Siamou live so far from other groups of the same language family. However, from their location and information on surrounding groups, it is assumed that they are primarily farmers.
What are their lives like?
The earliest known inhabitants of Burkina Faso were the Bobo, Lobi, and Gurunsi. In the 1400's, horsemen from the south invaded the region and established the Gurma and Mossi kingdoms. Several Mossi kingdoms developed, with the most powerful one located in Ouagadougou. This state, headed by an emperor titled the morho naba (great lord), defeated attempted invasions by Muslim Songhai and Fulani neighbors. Despite the warfare, the kingdom managed to maintain valuable commercial links with major West African trading powers, such as the Dyula, the Hausa, and the Asante (Ashanti).
The Siamou are very close neighbors to the Toussian and the Karaboro, sub-groups of the Lobi and Senoufo, respectively. Primarily farmers, the Siamou grow cereals such as sorghum, millet, and maize. Yams, squash, beans, peppers, and a little rice are also grown. Some of these crops are sold in local markets, especially beer made from sorghum. Cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens are raised at each homestead. The men do most of the farm work, but the women help plant and harvest. Women also cultivate their own garden vegetables, collect forest products, gather firewood, draw water, and prepare the food and beer.
The Siamou live in rectangular, fortress-type compounds. Both male and female help in house-building. Structures are high and have thick mud or clay walls and flat roofs. A number of compounds compose a settlement, but these are located at a distance from one another so as to separate one family's farm and herds from others. Larger bush farms are located farther away from the settlements.
Children are cared for by their mothers and are breast-fed until they can walk. At that time, they are considered to have become human and are entitled to a proper burial. From this point, children are cared for by older sisters or relatives, who include them in their play. Girls play house and sometimes help carry water or grind cereals, while boys help with herding the cattle.
What are their beliefs?
Seventy percent of the Siamou follow their traditional, animistic religion (believe that non-human objects have spirits). Approximately 25% more have partially adopted Islam, the dominant religion of the area. Much of this conversion has resulted from contact with Muslim Dyula traders.
Siamou religion revolves around the worship of both deceased ancestors and the earth. The earth is thought to watch over the community and bring fertility to its soil. The ancestors are believed to watch over the lineage and are involved with household matters. Also, spirits in animals and objects can be "caught," and shrines are then erected to them.
What are their needs?
The Siamou have no Christian resources available in their language, and only one missions agency is currently working with them. Nevertheless, 5% have become Christians. Discipleship materials for these young believers are needed. Above all, intercession is needed to break down the strongholds that are keeping the Siamou in spiritual bondage.
- Ask the Lord to use Christians in Burkina Faso to minister the love of Jesus to the Siamou.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint the efforts of the missions agency that is targeting them.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, the Jesus film, and evangelistic literature will be made available to the Siamou.
- Ask the Lord to raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Siamou language.
- Pray that God will give the Siamou believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Siamou 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 Siamou church for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Siamou
- Country: Burkina Faso
- Their language: Siamou
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 5%
- Church members: 846
- 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: 4,700 (28%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 12,200 (72%)
- 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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