Introduction / History
The Gera, also called Gerawa, are the main inhabitants of the city of Bauchi and other parts of the northern Bauchi and southern Ganjuwa districts in the Bauchi state of Nigeria. They speak a Chadic language, which contains many words that resemble the Hausa vocabulary.
The Gera claim to have come from Misera in Sudan, living in various places before settling near Bauchi. Because the first Emir (chief) of Bauchi was a Gera, the Gera remain the most influential tribe in that region. The whole Bauchi area is draped with various hills and mountains. Rivers and streams in the area create a fertile soil, able to sustain year-round cultivation.
In contrast to many of their neighbors, the Gera are quite modern. Many are educated; some are businessmen; and others even hold high positions in government. Most, however, are still farmers, growing millet and guinea corn on their land, as well as raising cattle and other livestock.
What are their lives like?
The Gera are farmers, living in compact villages protected by hedges or walls. Grouped in enclosed family compounds, huts are round with conical thatched roofs and mud walls. A village headman handles affairs at the local level; however, the Emir of Bauchi rules over the entire Bauchi Emirate.
Each sub-group of the Gera has its own Nallo (ruler). He has his own council that helps him make decisions, along with the elders of the town. When a Nallo dies, the elders present some men from the royal family to the people. From these men, the people will vote for the new Nallo.
Each group of boys between the ages of seven and nine is circumcised together. Taken into the bush for a month, the boys are initiated into the religious life of their people by the elders and dodo (masked occult figure). This time is also a training period for manhood. After the month is completed, a seven day feast is held, and the boys are brought back to their parents by the dodo, who dances with the people in the village upon the boys' return.
After circumcision, the boy's father will begin looking for a wife for his son by approaching a girl's father with a marriage proposal. If the girl agrees, the two will begin a courtship when the boy reaches the age of seventeen. During courtship, the boy must work on the farm of the girl's father every year for five years. After the payment of the bride-price to the girl's parents, a feast is held. At that time, the girl is taken to the groom's house, where another celebration will begin. That evening, the groom will arrive at his house and the couple will begin their life together as husband and wife.
When a woman gives birth to her first child, she remains in her husband's house until the seventh day after birth, when a naming ceremony takes place. Then, the woman and child are taken to the home of the maternal grandparents, where they will remain for two years. This is done as a means of birth control.
What are their beliefs?
The majority of the Gera are Muslim. However some of their traditional ethnic religion remains in place. They believe in an invisible supreme god named Kpa, who lives in heaven. Each Gera family chooses an object to represent Kpa, such as a stone or a tree. There, sacrifices and prayers are made to their god.
The dodo is the embodiment of a strong supernatural power who has several functions. Among other things, he prays to Kpa on behalf of the people for good crops and a blessed rainy season.
Priests among the tribe are believed to possess the ability to commune with the spirits and to know what is going on at all times by spiritual means.
What are their needs?
There are few Christian resources available to the Gera. Most of the Gera have not had the opportunity to hear the message of salvation. Evangelistic work and prayer are greatly needed to impact these people with the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to the Gera of Nigeria.
* Pray that God will give the few Gera believers in Nigeria boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Gera church for the glory of His name!
* Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Gera who will boldly declare the Gospel.