Introduction / History
The Bande, or Gbandi, are located in the forest region of southern Guinea, between Liberia and Ivory Coast. They live just south of the Kissi people, and the two tribes have similar lifestyles. The Bande speak Bandi, a Mandingo language that belongs to the Niger-Congo language family.
Guinea's forested region has a tropical climate, with temperatures near 80° F. all year round. The area is extremely humid and has about 100 inches of rain annually. Manatees and hippopotamuses fill the rivers of this tropical region, and poisonous snakes such as cobras and pythons are also commonly seen. The rain forest produces ebony and mahogany trees; however, its appearance is becoming more like the savanna as a result of the "slash and burn" farming methods of the forest tribes.
The Bande are a hard-working people, and it is important to them to do what is right in their own eyes. They live according to the customs and traditions their ancestors set for them long ago.
What are their lives like?
Like most of the tribes in this part of Africa, the Bande are primarily farmers. Rice, their staple crop, is grown both in the swamps and on the hillsides of the area. A plot of land can only be used for one or two years before it must be left fallow in order to restore the soil's nutrients. This means that every year or so a farmer and his family must move and begin cultivating a new plot of land. Besides rice, the Bande also raise corn, bananas, beans, potatoes, peppers, cotton, and tomatoes. Most families also have small house gardens, which provide them with fruits and nuts.
The Bande men are responsible for clearing the land and planting the crops, while the women harvest the crops and do other jobs like weeding and hoeing. Both men and women fish, usually with nets, and women trade in the local markets. Boys tend to the family's cattle, goats, and sheep. The cows are not milked and are sometimes used as sacrifices.
Among the Bande, girl's are usually betrothed for marriage during infancy. Before the wedding takes place, a man is required to pay a bride-price to the girl's parents. Men commonly have more than one wife, and a widow usually marries her brother-in-law.
Bande villages are small and compact, and are generally tucked inside groves of trees. The people live in round houses that are usually raised slightly above the ground. Most of the homes are built with mud walls, cone-shaped thatch roofs, and verandahs. In the center of each village is a square. The village headman and his family live in the square in a family compound. The headman offers sacrifices to ancestral spirits and acts as judge over the village.
What are their beliefs?
Like many other tribes in the forest region, most of the Bande practice traditional ethnic religions. They are primarily animists, believing that non-living objects have spirits. The Bande also worship ancestral spirits. They believe that when a family member dies his spirit remains, acting as a mediator between the family and the creator god. The village headman regularly makes sacrifices to the spirits on behalf of the villagers.
Many of the Bande fear the witches and sorcerers who live among them and practice witchcraft. The villagers often wear charms and carry medicines in order to ward off the evil that the witches may bring to the tribe.
What are their needs?
Though some of the Bande have heard the Gospel and a small percentage have accepted Christ, there has been little impact on the Bande tribe as a whole. Most of them have never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel; they have never been given an opportunity to receive Jesus Christ into their hearts as Savior.
More laborers and additional evangelistic tools are needed. These precious people daily live in fear of their gods. They desperately need to know the Truth that can set them free.
* Ask the Lord to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Bande.
* Pray that Christian broadcasts and evangelistic literature will soon be made available in the Bandi language.
* Ask God to give the Bande believers opportunities share Christ with their friends and families.
* Pray that the Lord will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Guinea through worship and intercession.
* Pray that the Lord will save key leaders among the Bande who will boldly declare the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Bande
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