Mijikenda, Digo in Kenya

Population

350,000

Christian

Evangelical

Largest Religion

Main Language

Progress


Digo people video

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Introduction / History

The Digo are an East African tribe, concentrated on the southern coastal strip of Kenya between Mombasa and the border of Tanzania. It is rather surprising to find that in a country that is overwhelmingly Christian, the Digo are nearly all Muslim.

The Digo are a Bantu tribe and are actually grouped together with eight other tribes. Together these tribes make up the Mijikenda, or "nine towns." Tradition tells us that the nine Mijikenda tribes originated farther north, but were driven south as a result of war.

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Digo experienced a time of great famine. It became a common practice for them to give either themselves or their children as kore, or "blood money," to serve as temporary collateral for a loan of food. Sadly, there were many times when the debt could not be redeemed, thus leaving them to live as slaves. Many of the Digo who were brought to Mombasa as slaves later obtained their freedom by converting to Islam.


What are Their Lives Like?

For many years the Digo have been involved in trade with Muslim Arabs. As a result, they have enjoyed a higher standard of living than most of their neighboring tribes. In addition to trading, farming and fishing are two other sources of income for the Digo. Their principal crop is "manioc," a small shrub with thick roots that are eaten like potatoes. They also grow sesame, corn, rice, and beans. "Palm wine" is a popular drink produced from the palm tree.

The Digo tribe formerly lived in large, fortified villages but today their villages only consist of about 40 huts each. The shape of each hut clearly indicates to the villagers who live inside. The huts of elders are round, while those of other people are rectangular.

When a young Digo man marries, he must pay the normal bride-price of four heads of cattle, two goats or sheep, and palm wine. He is then incorporated into the bride's family. Eventually, as he demonstrates leadership qualities, he will be accepted into the body of tribal elders.


What are Their Beliefs?

Islam is more widely accepted among the Digo than among any of the other Mijikenda tribes. Nevertheless, ties with traditional practices (such as animism and ancestor worship) still have more influence on the Digo community than does Islam. (Animism is the belief that non-human objects have spirits. Ancestor worship is the practice of praying to deceased ancestors for help and guidance.) One example of spiritism is their use of blood sacrifices. Such sacrifices are very significant to the Digo, especially in the exorcism of evil spirits. Witchdoctors are also consulted regularly.

Most of the Digo people over forty years of age have no real understanding of the Koran. Only a few of them have studied Islam in any depth, and most of them have only a superficial knowledge of its principles and doctrines. However, its presence among the Digo over the past eighty years has not gone entirely unnoticed. Its existence has altered both religious and political structures. For example, the people have adopted new attire and diets from their Muslim Arab neighbors. Although they know no religious significance for wearing the black veil, Digo women wear it to show respect for their husbands. This nominal identification with the Muslim religion is referred to as "folk Islam."


What are Their Needs?

Even though the nation of Kenya is predominantly Christian, the Digo have never been successfully reached with the Gospel. There are currently no Christian broadcasts in their area.

The entire New Testament has successfully been translated into Chidigo, the language of the Digo people, around 2005, and now there is a need for literacy training to put the gospel in their heart language to use. The Old Testament translation into Chidigo has also begun.

Since the Digo are economically self-sufficient, they have no real need to reach out to the nearby Christian-sponsored relief agencies. Materialism is becoming increasingly widespread among them.

Also, the religious practices of the Digo are deeply rooted in spiritism and folk Islam. This makes reaching them a very difficult task.


Prayer Points

* The raising up of Digo pastors who take their words and actions from the Word of God in their own language is necessary for true church growth amongst the Digo.
* Pray that God will cause the Digo people to become dissatisfied with their traditional religions and begin searching for the Truth.
* Pray that God will empower the Kenyan church with the ability and the strategy to reach the Digo tribe with the Gospel.
* Ask God to soften the hearts and open the ears of the Digo people to the Gospel as it is presented to them.
* Pray that Christian broadcasts will be made available in the area of Kenya where the Digo tribe is located.
* Pray for the Christians working nearby the Digo settlements. Ask God to give them open doors of ministry to the Digo tribe.
* Pray that a strong Christian work will be raised up within the Digo tribe.


Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

People Name General Mijikenda, Digo
People Name in Country Mijikenda, Digo
Population in Kenya 350,000
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names
Affinity Bloc Sub-Saharan Peoples
People Cluster Bantu, East-Coastal
People Name General Mijikenda, Digo
Ethnic Code NAB57j
Country Kenya
Region East and Southern Africa
Continent Africa
10/40 Window No
Persecution Rank 43  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution rankinging, )
Location in Country Coast Province, Kwale District, south of Mombasa
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Chidigo (350,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Chidigo 350,000
Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1982-2000)
New Testament Yes   (2007)
Complete Bible No
Audio Bible Online
Category Resource
Audio Recordings Global Recordings
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (FCBH)
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Chidigo
Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2006-12-20
Global Prayer Digest: 2014-01-28

Major Religion Percent
Buddhism
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.05 %)
0.10 %
Ethnic Religions
20.00 %
Hinduism
0.00 %
Islam
79.90 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
Unknown
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
Anglican
30.0 %
Independent
35.0 %
Orthodox
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
Protestant
25.0 %
Roman Catholic
10.0 %
Photo Source: Link Up Africa  
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Video Source: LinkUp Africa
Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
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