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:
My new Ako, who God allowed us to participate in the miracle of saving her life and sharing the Good News after severe delivery complications has completed her 40 days of seclusion. She brought her healthy baby boy for his first round of immunizations. She came with an invitation from her husband, “come and celebrate with us…we’ll provide the goat, you bring the rice and sugar.” ***Pray that this follow up with the larger extended family may bring the response of many of them not only hearing, but God’s drawing them to RECEIVE His grace through the Messiah – and be on fire to pass it on to many more!
Ako’s life was saved this week by the power of Jesus after prayer and medical care were given in His name! PTL for God’s gracious miracle of physical saving which was witnessed by all the women of the area. Two days later the women eagerly listened and welcomed the truth of hearing the Gospel from the perspective of Jesus the Savior, Healer and Deliverer. Pray that the men of Ako’s extended family will become ‘men of peace’ and will be willing to study God’s Word and seek to obey it, leading the women and children to do the same – that the whole extended family group may have understanding and repent, believe and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior (turn and be healed). Pray against FEAR and all the schemes of the enemy to snatch these seeds away or choke them out!