Introduction / History
The Shibushi (also known as Bushi or Kibushi) speaking people of Mayotte have their origins in the nearby Island of Madagascar. Due to the close proximity of Madagascar, Malagasy people have been present on Mayotte for a very long time, but only since the latter half of the 19th century have Malagasy people immigrated and settled on the Island. It is these immigrants and plantation workers that are today known as the Shibushi. The Island is divided between speakers of Shimahore (The language of the majority; a Bantu based langue closely related to Swahili) and Shibushi (The language of the minority; a Sakalava dialect of Malagasy - an Austronesian language). Speakers of both Shimahore and Shibushi identify themselves first as Muslims, and then as Mahore, that is, residents of Mayotte. There are no Shibushi Christians in the world today...yet.
Where are they Located?
The Island of Mayotte is the southern most island in the Comoros archipelago, and is located between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique, off the southeast coast of Africa. The Shibushi occupy the entire island.
What are Their Lives Like?
The lives of the Shibushi display a mixture of the traditional and the modern. The older generation live according to the traditional ways, such as following the Islamic calendar, and structuring their day around the five daily prayer times. The younger generation, who have been educated in the French secular system, are beginning to ask questions about some of the traditions, and to seek the things of the west such as material wealth, a less strict moral code and manner of dress. At the moment there is still a sense of community in villages, but this is beginning to die out, as people lead more independent lives.
What are Their Beliefs?
Islam is their identity and they are very proud of this. Many people, except the strictest Muslims, however, look more to spirits (djinns) to help with everyday needs or crises. There is a great deal of fear of these spirits, and misfortune is often attributed to a djinn being angry. It is to the djinns that most people turn in their time of need. In addition the influence of France is bringing in the attitudes of the west, such as relativism (no absolute truth) and desire for a career and material wealth.
What are Their Needs?
The material needs of the Shibushi people are not as great as in many areas of Africa. France has invested a great deal of money in Mayotte, and people are able to have free education and affordable medical care. However, some of the older people, who did not benefit from free education, express a sense of inferiority and desire to learn more. People's expressed or felt needs tend to be along the lines of material comfort or of education: learning to read, learning better French or English. The true need of this people is to see their need for a Savior. Although Islam is hard, life is comfortable enough for many people to be unwilling to change. Those seeking answers in the things of the west need to realize that their true needs can be met only by the living God. Many people need freedom from bondage and fear of djinns.
* For more Christian workers on this new field.
* For people's minds to be set free from the powers of darkness on the island.
* For the Christian workers on this field to be encouraged and to work in unity together.
* For a spiritual breakthrough among the women who seem to be less responsive than the men.
* For a spiritual breakthrough among the young people who tend to be more open-minded than the older generations.
Lambek, Michael. Knowledge and Practice in Mayotte - Local Discourses of Islam, Sorcery, and Spirit Possession. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993.
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