Vai, Vy in Liberia

Population

137,000

Christian

Evangelical

Largest Religion

Main Language

Progress


Introduction / History

The Vai live in northwestern Liberia and eastern Sierra Leone, two neighboring countries in West Africa. The Vai of Liberia occupy territory covering about 7,000 square miles. This region has several rivers that empty into the Atlantic Ocean. The Vai living along the coast are surrounded by sandbars and swamps; while those living farther inland dwell in thick, forested areas.

Liberia is a small country that remains primarily undeveloped. The temperatures there range from about 76º to 80º F year round. It is the oldest republic in Africa and the only African state never subject to colonial rule. As a result of extensive migrations that occurred centuries ago, more than twenty different tribes now live in Liberia.

The Vai are attractive people of average height, and their skin ranges in color from light brown to coal black. They are well proportioned and intelligent. They speak Vai, a Niger-Congo language.


What are Their Lives Like?

Most of the Vai are farmers. Plots of cleared land provide space to grow rice and vegetables. These plots can only be used for one or two years before the farmer must move to a new plot. New plots are cleared by using the "bush farming" technique. This involves burning off the land and allowing the ashes to serve as fertilizer. The only trees not cut down are the palm trees, which provide nuts and shade for the farmers. Women and children participate in farming by chasing away the birds and weeding the plot.

Game is scarce in Vai country since most of the animals live farther inland in the jungles. However, hunting occasionally provides meat for the Vai.

The Liberian Vai are known as skilled carpenters, weavers, and tailors. This is evidence of the Egyptian and Arabic cultures from which they came. Although they are crafters of valuable hand-made items, imported goods are now beginning to take their place.

Village houses are usually rectangular, about seven or eight feet high, and rise to a peak in the middle. They usually have from two to six rooms. The kitchen and bathroom are separate structures built several yards from the home.

The Vai have three types of schooling. The first is the "bush school," where the children learn traditional Vai socialization skills, important survival skills, and other traits of village life for four to five years. Some then attend English schools to learn the English language. Finally, those who attend the Quianic schools are taught the Arabic language under the guidance of the village iman (local Muslim religious leader).

Growing technology in this region is changing the tribal Via into a more modernized community. Automobiles have provided a means by which they can trade their cocoa, coffee, and cloth with people in other towns.


What are Their Beliefs?

The Vai are predominantly Muslim, but many traditional beliefs are still practiced. For instance, the alligator is believed to be connected with evil spirits, since it destroys life. A supreme god is thought to be the controller of Earth and everything in it, since they believe he created everything. The Vai believe that this god manifests himself through spirits and nature. They also believe that this god is too distant to serve or worship directly, so they use a spirit medium.

Most of the Vai are very superstitious and some practice witchcraft. They consider themselves to be surrounded by spirits that can change into living creatures or objects. These spirits are believed to have the power to do evil to individuals or to the whole tribe. The Vai perform ceremonies for the dead in which they leave articles of clothing and food near the graves of the deceased.


What are Their Needs?

Only a few of the Vai population have become Christians. Prayer is the first step toward reaching them with the Gospel.


Prayer Points

* Ask the Lord to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Vai.
* Ask the Lord to raise up additional long-term missionaries to go to Liberia and work among the Vai.
* Ask God to give the Vai believers a burden to share Christ with their friends and families.
* Pray that God will open the hearts of Liberia's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Vai.


Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2008-02-14
Global Prayer Digest: 2009-02-15
People Name General Vai
People Name in Country Vai, Vy
Population in Liberia 137,000
World Population 161,000
Countries 2
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Vey, Vy
Affinity Bloc Sub-Saharan Peoples
People Cluster Mande
People Name General Vai
Ethnic Code NAB64k
Country Liberia
Region West and Central Africa
Continent Africa
10/40 Window No
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country West
People Group Map Vai, Vy in Liberia

Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Kono (Unknown) Vai (Unknown)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Kono Vai
Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1995)
New Testament Yes   (2002)
Complete Bible No
Audio Bible Online
Category Resource
Audio Recordings Global Recordings
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Oral Bible
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Vai
Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2008-02-14
Global Prayer Digest: 2009-02-15

Major Religion Percent
Buddhism
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.23 %)
0.70 %
Ethnic Religions
9.30 %
Hinduism
0.00 %
Islam
90.00 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
Unknown
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
Anglican
0.0 %
Independent
0.0 %
Orthodox
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
Protestant
100.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Christine Reyna  
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
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