Introduction / History Cote d'Ivoire, or Ivory Coast, is home to approximately 140 distinct ethnic groups. The Western Krahn are part of a larger group who live primarily across the border in Liberia. In Cote d'Ivoire, they represent a very slight portion of the population. They are part of the Kru cluster of peoples, and their language is part of the Niger-Congo family.
It seems that the Western Krahn's ancestors of most of the present-day population of Cote d'Ivoire moved into the area in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They arrived from the northeast and east, where strong tribal kingdoms flourished. In the fifteenth century, Portuguese explorers reached the coast and began trading in slaves and ivory. Europeans did not move inland until the 1830's when the French signed treaties with coastal rulers. As part of the French expansion, Cote d'Ivoire was made a colony in 1893. The French were bitterly resisted, however, and frequent revolts occurred.
What are their lives like? Very little is known about the Western Krahn; thus, some assumptions have been made regarding their lifestyle, based on their location and related groups. The Western Krahn are assumed to be farmers who grow millet, sorghum, and other crops. Crop rotation and some irrigation are used, and small numbers of cattle and other animals are kept. Hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants provide additional food.
Western Krahn settlements consist of a small number of mud huts with cone-shaped roofs made of palm leaves or thatch. These huts are grouped irregularly around a center court that serves as a meeting place. In a particular locality, a clan composed of a local lineage dominates. Many settlements are actually an extended family acting as an economic unit. Each extended family has a headman, who offers sacrifices to the ancestral spirits. The headman is succeeded by his oldest sister's eldest son, who then leaves his own compound to assume his new role. Each village (group of settlements) has a religious chief and headmen to handle village affairs and disputes.
Many of the Western Krahn men have more than one wife, and the levirate (compulsory marriage of a widow to her dead husband's brother) and the sororate (compulsory marriage of a woman to her dead or barren sister's husband) are practiced. Most girls are betrothed while they are quite young. Marriages are arranged by either the father or the extended family head. When a man marries, his bride may join him or remain in her father's home. If she remains with her father, her daughters stay with her, but her sons join their fathers at a young age.
Western Krahn social structure is relatively democratic without rigid classes. However, slavery was once present in the area, and despised castes of smiths and leather workers still exist. Society is patrilineal, with lines of descent and inheritances traced through the males. Private property is passed to the eldest son, and household property, to the father's younger brother. Married sons live in the household of their fathers.
What are their beliefs? Nearly all of the Western Krahn still practice various forms of animism, believing that non-human objects have spirits. In particular, ancestor worship (praying to deceased relatives for guidance or protection) is practiced. It is believed that the supreme god is too distant to worship directly; therefore, the only way to serve or worship him is through a spirit. Often they worship a statue or other object believed to "house" a spirit. In return, the spirit gives the worship to the supreme god.
The growth of Christianity in Cote d'Ivoire suffers from the quick rise and fall of prophetic sects, but a segment of the population is Christian (mostly Roman Catholic or Methodist). However, few of the Western Krahn are Christians.
What are their needs? The New Testament has been translated for the Western Krahn. Prayer for the growth of believers is an important priority.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to send missionaries to work among the Western Krahn.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint the efforts of missions agencies focusing on the Western Krahn.
* Pray that God will use the believers to share Christ with the Western Krahn.
* Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Western Krahn who will boldly declare the Gospel.
* 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 Western Krahn church for the glory of His name! * Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.