Introduction / History
The Garre of Somalia are a sub-tribe of a much larger ethnic group known as the Somali. The Somali live scattered across the northeastern portion of Africa, commonly called the "Horn of Africa," and in the Middle East. Although the Somali adhere to the same Islamic faith and share a common cultural heritage, they are divided by language distinctions and clan conflicts.
The Garre are located mostly in Kenya and Somalia, but a few may also be found in Ethiopia. In Somalia, they are located on the Upper Jubba River between the Webi Gestro and the Webi Mana. They are closely related to the Afar people to the north. Their neighbors include the Ajuran and Digodia Somali and the Boran Galla of Kenya.
The Garre speak a language called Af-garre. Arabic is also spoken as a secondary or trade language. Like other Somali, the Garre are typically tall and slender with long, oval faces and straight noses. Their skin color varies from jet black to light brown.
What are their lives like?
Most Garre are nomadic herdsmen, seasonally migrating with their camels, sheep, and goats. They live in portable huts made of bent saplings covered with animal skins or woven mats. Their collapsible tents can easily be loaded on pack animals and moved with the herds. The wealth of most Garre is in their herds. Although the husband remains the legal owner of the herd, his wife controls part of it.
Garre villages consist of several related families. Their huts are arranged in a circle or semi-circle surrounding the cattle pens. Villages are enclosed by thorn-shrub hedges to provide protection from intruders or wild animals. The men's responsibilities include caring for the herds, making decisions dealing with migration, and trading. The women are in charge of domestic duties, such as preparing the meals, milking the animals, caring for the children, and actually building the home. Like other nomads, the Garre scorn those who work with their hands, considering craftsmen a part of the lower class.
The moving patterns of the Garre nomads are dependent upon climate and the availability of grazing land. If water or grazing land becomes scarce, the families pack up their portable huts and move across the desert as a single, extended family unit. The Garre are quite loyal to one another, spreading evenly across the land to make sure that everyone has enough water and pasture for his herds.
According to Islamic law, a man may have as many as four wives. Each wife has her own hut where she raises her children. Unfortunately, the divorce rate among the Garre is high. The children of divorced parents are usually split by gender, with the wife taking the girls and the husband taking the boys.
Formerly, the Garre's diet consisted of almost solely dairy products. Today, however, maize, rice, and some vegetables are also included. Chewing qat, a mild stimulant, is a favorite social pastime for most Garre.
What are their beliefs?
The Somali tribes were converted to Islam in the 1400's, and today, the Garre are virtually all Muslim. Some Garre believe that they descended from Arab Muslims; however, linguistic research disproves this theory. Although they are quite orthodox in their religious practices, few have a deep understanding of Islam.
As Muslims, the Garre believe that Jesus was only a prophet and not God's Son. They believe that after they die, all men will give an account for their actions, being judged by their works and by their knowledge of the Koran. Most Garre consider Christians to be inferior to themselves.
What are their needs?
In recent years, severe drought has caused problems for many of the Garre. Health care facilities are insufficient for meeting the needs of the people. There are no Christian resources available to them, and no missions agencies are currently working with them. Fervent prayer, Christian workers, and evangelistic tools are urgently needed to win the Garre to Christ.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Somalia to share Christ with the Garre.
* Pray that God will give African Christians the burden and opportunity to minister to the Garre.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Garre.