Profile Source: Paul Briggs
Introduction / History
The Loron people, variously named Lorhon, Tenbo, Teguessie and Tuna, who are located in forested savannah region of northeast Cote d'Ivoire and southwest Burkina Faso, came originally from the Bouna region of Cote d'Ivoire. There are approximately 10-12,000 Loron people. Their language, which is called Teen, is 45% cognate with that of the Koulango people in the Bouna area, although their culture reflects that of the Lobi people.
At least 250 years ago, when many Loron people were killed in warfare with other tribal groups from the south of Cote d'Ivoire, the Loron fled the Bouna region. They moved north along the Black Volta river, and then west, and settled in the area that is now the town of Gaoua, Burkina Faso, about 100 miles (160kms) from Bouna, Cote d'Ivoire.
When the Lobi people moved into the Gaoua area from Ghana in the late 18th century, the Loron, like most other smaller ethnic groups in the region, adopted many of the customs of the dominant and more numerous Lobis. Although, to this day, the Loron people are still considered the 'Masters of the Land' in the Gaoua area.
To avoid conflict with their neighbouring tribes, the relatively timid Loron went in search of new pastures. Most of the Loron people gradually migrated south, to the mountains which form the border between Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire, just below the Lobi town of Kampti. Approximately 100 years ago a large group of Loron people moved further south, out of the mountainous region and settled in a more fertile area, in Cote d'Ivoire, between Doropo and Tehini. This all happened, of course, before country demarcation lines were created by the French colonialists.
Where are they Located?
The Lorhon/Loron people are now concentrated mainly in the Sub-Prefecture of Tehini in northeast Cote d'Ivoire; and the province of Poni in southwest Burkina Faso. With a total population of between 10-12,000, approximately 70% of the Loron live in Cote d'Ivoire, and 30% in Burkina Faso. The Loron in Cote d'Ivoire are scattered over an area of about 2,000 square miles, just north of the Comoe National Park. In Burkina they are located mainly in the mountain area between Kampti and the Cote d'Ivoire border. Around 5% of the Loron, mostly young Loron males, live and work on the cocoa and coffee plantations of southern Cote d'Ivoire. They usually spend 1-2 years there, before returning to marry and settle down in their natal village.
What are Their Lives Like?
The vast majority of Loron people are subsistence farmers, living in small villages of between 50-100 people. Families normally live in homesteads separated from other families by small planting areas. As with the Lobi people, 'Two reaches of an arrow' represents an appropriate distance between two Loron family homesteads. The Loron in both Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso are probably among the least developed people groups in their respective countries. They normally live in isolated areas with little or no access to schools, medical facilities, or potable water.
What are Their Beliefs?
The Loron people are animist in the sense that they believe that the inanimate objects that they create represent the spirit world. They fabricate fetishes, or idols, (punibo) from wood, clay or metal. Appeasing the demands of these 'gods' dominate every aspect of their lives. They believe God (Nyelye - sky) created everything, but 'it' has no further interest in people. They believe that a wide range of supernatural beings and invisible spiritual powers control and shape their lives. The Loron people offer sacrifices to their idols to ensure, among other things, an adequate food supply, protection from spirits which can harm or kill, healthy children and harmony in the community. The have many taboos and rituals that they need to respect throughout their lives in order to avoid sickness, death or misfortune.
What are Their Needs?
The recent war and continuing political uncertainty in Cote d'Ivoire has made a difficult situation for the Loron even worse. The few government schools which had been functioning in some of the Loron areas currently do not have appropriate staff or qualified teachers. Medical facilities are also very limited. Drinking-water pumps have recently been installed in a number of new areas, but most Loron still get their water from local swamps and water holes. The potable water situation is only slightly better in Burkina Faso.
* Evangelism and Church Planting: New Tribes Mission (NTM) missionaries started working among the Loron people of Cote d'Ivoire in 1984. Evangelism in the Loron language began in 1992, and since then, approximately 400 Loron people in Cote d'Ivoire have become Christians. There are 10 groups of Loron believers worshiping, teaching, and fellowshipping together in the Loron language. Pray for continued growth, but numerically and spiritually, of Loron believers and churches.
* In Burkina Faso there are only a few isolated Loron Christians, and no functioning Loron churches. A series of chronological Bible lessons in the Loron language is currently being broadcast to the Loron people in Burkina Faso by RESO (Southwest Gospel Radio). Pray that many Loron people in Burkina Faso will respond to God's offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.
* Literacy: Less than 100 Loron people are functionally literate, but 9 Loron literacy centres have been established in Cote d'Ivoire, and almost 200 people are learning how to read and write. Seventeen literacy teachers have been trained to teach the course. Some Loron villages in Burkina Faso have requested that literacy classes begin in their villages also. Pray that many more Loron people will become literate.