Prayer Profile
The Zaore of Burkina Faso

[IMAGE] Burkina Faso consists of an extensive plateau that is slightly inclined towards the south. The climate of the country is generally dry, and the soil, infertile. Three principal rivers can be found in Burkina Faso: the Black Volta, Red Volta, and White Volta. Converging to the south in Ghana, these three rivers form the Volta River. In the southwestern part of the country are sandstone plateaus bordered by the Banfora Escarpment.

In Burkina Faso, about 90% of the population is rural and lives in some 7,700 villages. Few people live for several miles on either side of the Volta rivers because of the presence of the deadly tsetse fly. As a result, villages tend to be grouped toward the center of the country at higher elevations.

Very little specific information is known about the 29,200 Zaore. Their language is a dialect of Moore, the dominant language of the nation. It is possible that the Zaore have culturally assimilated with the Mossi, who grow millet and sorghum as staples.

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).

Mossi society is divided into royalty, nobility, commoners, and, formerly, slaves. Each village is governed by a chief who answers to a divisional chief. At the top of the hierarchy is the paramount ruler, the morho naba (big lord), whose seat is located at Ouagadougou. Divisional chiefs serve as advisers to the morho naba and theoretically choose his successor. Usually, however, the paramount chief's eldest son succeeds.

Prior to its modernization during the latter part of French rule, and since independence in 1960, the Mossi kingdom provided an example of a typical African realm. The king's elaborate court included not only nobles and high officials but also bodyguards, page boys, and eunuchs. His wives lived in special villages, all of whose male inhabitants were eunuchs.

Almost 50% of Burkina Faso's population is under 15 years of age. Both the birth and death rates are high by world standards. Officially, education is compulsory, but only about one-third of all primary school age children attend classes—one of the lowest figures in Africa. Recurring, severe droughts and a general lack of resources have resulted in economic stagnation. A lack of employment opportunities has led to substantial migration to Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.

What are their beliefs?
The majority of the Zaore still practice their traditional, ethnic religion. In particular, they engage in ancestor worship, believing that the spirits of deceased relatives are alive and must be fed and tended. The Zaore look to the ancestral spirits for guidance, blessings, and protection. They are also animists, worshipping elements of nature. Both Islam and Christianity are minority religions among the Zaore, and only 2% of them are Christians.

What are their needs?
Health and sanitary conditions in Burkina Faso are extremely poor. Malnutrition among children is widespread, and many people suffer from diseases such as meningitis, trachoma, and leprosy. Because the country has very few doctors, many of the sick receive little or no medical care. The infant mortality rate is very high, but declining, and life expectancy is only 48 years for men and 51 years for women.

Spiritually, the Zaore are without any Christian resources in their own language. Currently, no missions agencies are targeting them. Christian doctors and teachers, pioneer missions works, and sustained prayer are especially needed to demonstrate the love of Jesus to the Zaore.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord of the harvest to send Christian doctors and teachers to share both their skills and their faith with the Zaore.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to call missionaries to live and work among the Zaore.
  • Pray that the Bible, the Jesus film, and Christian broadcasts will soon be available to the Zaore.
  • Pray that Jesus will supernaturally reveal Himself as Lord to the Zaore.
  • Pray that signs and wonders will follow the Zaore believers as they share Christ with their families and friends.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Zaore 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 Zaore church for the glory of His name!

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Zaore
  • Country: Burkina Faso
  • Their language: Zaore (Joore)
  • Population: (1990) 25,400
    (1995) 29,200
    (2000) 33,100
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionist 98%
  • Christian: 2%
  • Church members: 584
  • 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: 0
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 5,500 (19%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 2,300 (8%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 3,200 (11%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 23,700 (81%)
  • Country: Burkina Faso
  • Population: (1990) 8,987,100
    (1995) 10,319,400
    (2000) 11,707,900
  • Major peoples in size order: Mossi 46.7%
    Busansi 3.8%
    Liptako Fula 3.4%
    Gurma 3.3%
    Black Bobo 2.7%
  • Major religions: Muslim 51.4%
    Ethnic religionist 27.5%
    Christian 21%
  • Number of denominations: 17

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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