Introduction / History
The Safwa (pronounced SAH-fwah) people live in the highlands of southwestern Tanzania. The city of Mbeya is at the center of their traditional homeland, but most Safwa have fled urbanization. They are concentrated, instead, in villages around the city of Mbeya and extending out some 30 miles into the surrounding mountains and valleys. There are evangelical churches in Safwa villages, but many are filled with people of other groups who have moved into Safwa areas.
Many Safwa villages have little or no effective evangelical witness. It is estimated that as many as 80 percent of the Safwa people are devout followers of African traditional religion or no religion at all. Perhaps less than 3 percent are evangelical Christians. Alcoholism is a big problem among the Safwa, as it is among many people groups. As a whole, the Safwa are characterized as "resistant" to the gospel. A group is exploring the possibility of translating the Bible into their language. (From IMB Profile May, 2003.)
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