The O people of East Africa
Location and Background: The O are semi-nomadic herders who live in the semi-arid bush lands of East Africa, in round, dome-shaped structures which can be dismantled in order to move with their herds. They are the most southern representatives of the once more powerful nations to the north.
History: They migrated south as cattle and camel herders, raiding more settled peoples as they went. They controlled a wide area of territory around 400 years ago, but due to health epidemics and surrounding enemies the size of the tribe was reduced. They resisted the Islam of the Arab slave traders until the 1920s, and by 1950 the whole tribe had converted. They are often in conflict with their neighbors over conflicts about access to good grazing, wells, and river waters for their herds. Recently there have been times of violent clashes, revenge raids and cattle stealing between ethnic communities.
Culture: Cattle are central in O culture, being used to pay bride price, and are slaughtered for weddings and funerals. Boys are taught to shepherd smaller animals. Girls help with household chores and younger siblings. There are special ceremonies for the birth of babies, and for funerals.
Polygamy is practiced by half of the men, marriages used to be arranged but now elopement is more common. For men, bravery is stressed and riding, spear throwing, and fighting are admirable skills.
Modern education and the practice of Islam is creating change in the culture. Traditionally the elders had authority and were respected, and decided cases when there were disputes. They led the people to repentance and forgiveness through blood sacrifice and confession. The breakdown in traditional ways, replaced by the five pillars of Islam, has left people uncertain about their forgiveness until the Day of Judgment.
Religion: The O culture is becoming more and more Islamic in nature. Traditionally they believed in a creator God associated with the sky and believed in the spirits associated with locations in nature. These beliefs are now combined with their Islamic beliefs. Blood sacrifices are decreasing and observance of the five pillars of Islam is done in order to please God and gain forgiveness.
Latest Prayer Updates:
This week two O neighbor ladies listened eagerly to the Gospel and responded by praying to receive Jesus as their Savior. We arranged for them to meet for discipleship training. Before the follow up could happen, they both announced that they had gone home and eagerly shared with their families. Their husbands and extended families refused them to become followers of Jesus or to come for any more teaching. They told us they were sorry, but they would have to obey their families. Pray against this resistance and that people would choose to do what God wants rather than what man wants!
Just a quick note to ask for your prayers for all the details of our planned Kids’ Club – starting this afternoon, and hopefully finishing next Friday. Pray for lots of lasting fruit from all the seeds that are being planted, and pray that God will keep the clinic load down, and especially no ‘on-call’ stuff during those important afternoon hours. Pray with Jesus power and authority that God will speak powerfully through us all, and that those “rulers and authorities, and powers of this dark world” (Eph 6:12) will be prevented from keeping the kids and parents who help from hearing and understanding AND RECEIVING the Gospel truths!