Afar in Somalia

Population

158,000

Christian

0.00%

Evangelical

0.00%

Largest Religion

Main Language

Progress


Afar people video

Source LinkUp Africa                                                Download

Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center


Introduction / History

The Afar (Danakil) claim to be descendants of Noah's son - Ham. They are located in the East African countries of Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. The Afar of Djibouti live either along the coastline bordering Ethiopia and Somalia, or in a portion of the Danakil Desert that stretches across Ethiopia into Eritrea. Djibouti is sometimes called "a valley of hell" because it has one of the hottest, driest climates in the world.

The Danakil prefer to be known as the Afar, since the Arabic word danakil is an offensive term to them. The Afar consist of two sub-groups: the Asaemara ("red ones"), who are the more prestigious and powerful nobles living along the coast; and the Adaemara ("white ones"), who are the commoners living primarily in the mountains and the desert. The Danakil are a proud people, emphasizing a man's strength and bravery. Prestige comes from killing one's enemies.


What are Their Lives Like?

Most of the Afar are nomads who herd sheep, goats, cattle, and camels. Some of the Asaemara living on the coast are fishermen. A man's wealth, however, is measured by the size of his herds. The women are responsible for tending the sheep, cows, and goats, and for looking after the camp. The men care for the camels and donkeys, and take down the camp when it is time to move.

Although some Muslims are permitted to have four wives, Afar marriages are usually monogamous. Girls may marry as early as age ten. Marriages between first cousins are preferred, particularly between a man and his father's sister's daughter. The night of the full moon is favored for a wedding ceremony, and the presence of someone able to read the Koran is required.

Meat and milk are the major components of the Afar diet. Milk is also an important social "offering". For instance, when a guest is given fresh warm milk to drink, the host is implying that he will provide immediate protection for the guest. If a person is killed while under the protection of an Afar, his death must be avenged as if he were a member of the clan.

The Afar live in camps surrounded by thorn barricades, which protect them from the attacks of wild animals or enemy tribesmen. Their oval-shaped huts, called ari, are made of palm mats and are easily moved. Market day is important to the Danakil. Some travel great distances to sell cattle, camels, goats, sheep, butter, and straw mats. In turn, they buy items such as coffee, sugar, matches, and soap.


What are Their Beliefs?

Early in their history, the Afar were heavily influenced by the Islamic religion; and today, Islam is still held in great esteem. The people do not eat pork and rarely drink alcohol. Those who can afford to do so, make a pilgrimage to Mecca. In addition, many pre-Islamic beliefs and customs are also prevalent among the Danakil. They believe that certain trees and groves have sacred powers. They also have various religious rites such as anointing their bodies with ghee (a type of butter). Spirits of the dead are believed to be very powerful, and a "feast of the dead", called Rabena, is celebrated each year. They also give annual offerings to the sea to ensure safety for their villages. Many people wear protective leather amulets that contain herbs and verses from the Koran.


What are Their Needs?

One of the most serious problems in Djibouti is drought. Unfortunately, there is a lack of industry and natural resources to combat the problem.

Currently, the region is also under much political pressure. Since Djibouti gained its independence in 1977, tension between the Somali and the Danakil has increased. The Somalians feel the loss of a missing colony; Djibouti contains a vital part of the railway line that links Ethiopia to the outside world. Hence, both want control of the region.

The few Afar who have converted to Christianity are isolated. They are also pressured by their relatives to return to Islam. They need the Holy Spirit's strength to hold onto their faith in Christ.


Prayer Points

* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth additional laborers into Djibouti.
* Pray that God will grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are focusing on the Afar.
* Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio to this tribe.
* Pray for the small number of Afar believers and ask God to give them opportunities to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Afar church for the glory of His name!



Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center Copyrighted ©: Yes Used with permission

People Name General Afar
People Name in Country Afar
Population in Somalia 158,000
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged or Unknown Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Adali, Danakil
Affinity Bloc Horn of Africa Peoples
People Cluster Afar
People Name General Afar
Ethnic Code CMT33z
Country Somalia
Continent Africa
Region East and Southern Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Afar (158,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Afar 158,000
Largest Religion Islam
Buddhism
0.00%
Christianity
0.00%    ( Evangelical  0.00% )
Ethnic Religions
0.00%
Hinduism
0.00%
Islam
100.00%
Non-Religious
0.00%
Other / Small
0.00%
Unknown
0.00%
Photo Source: Eduardo Araia
Map Source: Ethnic Peoples of Somalia
Video Source: LinkUp Africa
Profile Source:
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
Get Involved
Register ministry activity for this group

Copyright © 2014 Joshua Project. A ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission.