The Gujarati of Madagascar

Pray for the Muslim Gujarati of Madagascar. They are mostly businessmen, and have lived on the island for generations. It is estimated that they control 50-60% of the economy of the country. The Malagasy church has little vision for reaching out to them. Many Malagasy resent the Gujarati’s success.

Pray that local believers would reach out to the Gujarati and ” Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations.” Psalm 96:1-3

An urban church has expressed interest in being involved in outreach to the Gujarati population in its community. There are many cultural barriers that the Malagasy church will have to overcome to make inroads with the Gujarati neighbors. We are praying for the right training opportunities and partnership possibilities with the Malagasy church.

Population:  60,000-70,000

Location and Background:  The Gujarati, or Karana, of Madagascar are generally descended from immigrants from western India in the Gujarat province.  The Gujarati of India are known to be resourceful businessmen. In Madagascar, Gujarati is the native language though many also speak Malagasy and French with some having knowledge of Hindi and English as well.

There are approximately 20,000 Gujarati in Antananarivo alone, centered around the area of Tsaralalana.  There are also significant populations in the port towns of Diego Suarez, Morondava, Tamatave and Mahajanga.

History:  It is generally believed that South Asians first arrived in Madagascar around 1880 in the west coast port town of Mahajanga.  They traded in slaves and sailed dhows to and from mainland Africa.  Initial arrivals were mainly Muslim Khojas, Ismailis and Daoudi Bohras.  In the 1970s, all business in Madagascar was nationalized.  Due to this, many South Asians were forced to leave the country.  Those who stayed were often uneducated, building their new businesses up from scratch.  Presently, it is widely believed that Gujarati businesses control 50 – 60% of the country’s economy.

Culture:  The Gujarati of Madagascar are a minority people group with a population of 60,000 – 70,000.  Approximately 1,000 are non-residents from India.  The others are locally-born descendants of early immigrants to Madagascar.  Their business involvement is mainly in import/export, retail, hotels, travel, and textiles.

Religion:  The majority are Shia Muslims (Bohra and Khoja Ithnasheri).  There are some Punjabi Pakistanis who are Sunni Muslim as well.  A very small Hindu community is present around the island.   Among the Malagasy mainline church denominations there is little, if any, vision for outreach to the South Asian communities.  Many Christians don’t believe that Asians can become followers of Jesus.  There is a hostility toward the Karana, who are seen as exploiters of the Malagasy people.

Latest Prayer Updates:

People of Peace

The Gujarati are called “Karana” by the Malagasy people. It has been difficult for the Malagasy to gain entrance into their communities, finding little common ground. Please pray for a pre-Venture trip being proposed with business professionals from South Africa, going to Madagascar in September. Pray for People of Peace among the business community and other marketplace sectors, and the softening of hearts among the Karana of Madagascar. Pray for an open door for fruitful ministry.

Love your neighbor

Pray that the people who attended the “Love Your Neighbor” seminar in Tana, will be motivated to begin building relationships with the Indian population so that they can share the good news with them. This is difficult as there is very little interaction between the Malagasy and the Indians. About the only meeting place is in the shops the Indians own. Pray that churches and believers in Madagascar will use this opportunity to reach out to their Gujarati neighbors.

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