Yerwa Kanuri in Chad

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Kanuri tribes consist of the Yerwa Kanuri, the Manga Kanuri, and several other sub-tribes. The majority of the Kanuri live in the Borno Province of northeastern Nigeria, where they are the dominant people group. They are also located in the countries of Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, and areas around Lake Chad. This region was once the powerful Borno Empire, ruled by the ancestors of the Kanuri. Others live in western Sudan, especially the Yerwa Kanuri.
The Kanuri began losing power in this region when the British took control in 1914. Nevertheless, they have remained politically active and still have much influence on the surrounding people groups. In fact, aspects of Kanuri culture, language and religion have been adopted by many of the neighboring tribes.
The Kanuri have pride and appreciation for their past as rulers, as well as their present position of leadership and influence. Many Kanuri speak Hausa, Arabic, or another area language in addition to Kanuri.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most of the Kanuri are farmers; however, they usually practice some other occupation during the dry season. Those who farm raise millet as their staple crop, and supplement it with sorghum, corn and peanuts. They raise sheep, goats and some horses. Among the Kanuri, owning horses brings prestige.
The Yerwa Kanuri who live in cities are involved in government jobs, public service, construction, transportation, and commerce. The Yerwa Kanuri who have occupations that are related to politics or religion have a very high social status. Those who work as blacksmiths, well-diggers, or butchers have a low social status. The majority of the Yerwa Kanuri, however, are farmers, craftsmen and merchants.
Kanuri settlements vary in size; but most contain walled-in compounds surrounding several mud or grass houses with thatched, cone-shaped roofs. These houses are very cool during the hot months. Farmland surrounds each settlement.
Towns serve as local markets and administrative centers for the Yerwa Kanuri. They contain a local school and mosque. Attached to the mosque are smaller schools for religious teachings.
The household (not the family itself) is an important economic unit to the Kanuri. The greater the number in a family, the more prestige the family head has. For this reason, young men are often loaned to households to help with field labor, to provide support, and to help in defending the family. In return, the head of the household will clothe the young man, feed him, pay his bride price, and possibly provide a bride for him. At that time, he will leave and start his own household. This type of relationship is widespread in Yerwa Kanuri society. The head of the household enjoys supreme loyalty.
Kanuri men marry while they are in their early twenties. Polygamy is common and a man may have as many as four wives. Girls marry while they are in their teens. Ideally, a man wants his first wife to be a young virgin. However, the bride price for a virgin is quite expensive, so men often take divorced women as their first wives. The divorce rate among the Kanuri is extremely high, with eight out of ten marriages ending in divorce. The effect is that most Kanuri families are broken and stitched back together, only to be broken again.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Kanuri have been Muslims since the eleventh century. Kanuri Muslims still practice folk rituals in conjunction with Islam. For various reasons they wear charms and amulets around their necks or keep them in their pockets. There is a charm to ensure a good pregnancy for a mother. There is also one to keep the ghost of the dead from haunting its descendants. They put their faith in the power of these charms.

What Are Their Needs?

Yerwa Kanuri families need help in staying together. Perhaps believers who are gifted in bringing reconciliation can help marriages stay together.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to heal Yerwa Kanuri marriages and lead them into the love and respect it takes for a lasting union.
Pray for God to give dreams of the victorious, risen Christ to Yerwa Kanuri elders.
Pray for a spiritual hunger among the Yerwa Kanuri that will lead them to seek and find Jesus Christ.
Pray for the Lord to thrust out Holy Spirit-driven workers to lead the Yerwa Kanuri people to the cross.
Pray for a movement to Christ among all Kanuri subgroups.

Scripture Prayers for the Kanuri, Yerwa in Chad.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Kanuri, Yerwa
People Name in Country Kanuri, Yerwa
Natural Name Yerwa Kanuri
Pronunciation YUR-wa kuh-NOO-ree
Alternate Names Beriberi; Bornu; Kanuri; Mober; Yerwa
Population this Country 206,000
Population all Countries 8,819,000
Total Countries 5
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 4
People ID 12509
ROP3 Code 104605
Country Chad
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Borno state: Kukawa, Kaga, Konduga, Maiduguri, Monguno, Ngala, Bama, and Gwoza LGAs; Yobe state: Nguru, Geidam, Damaturu, Fika, Fune, and Gujba LGAs; Gombe state: 1 enclave in each of Yamaltu-Deba, Akko, and Kwami LGAs.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Chad
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Borno state: Kukawa, Kaga, Konduga, Maiduguri, Monguno, Ngala, Bama, and Gwoza LGAs; Yobe state: Nguru, Geidam, Damaturu, Fika, Fune, and Gujba LGAs; Gombe state: 1 enclave in each of Yamaltu-Deba, Akko, and Kwami LGAs..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Primary Religion: Islam
Religion Subdivision: Sunni
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.01 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
99.99 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Kanuri, Yerwa
Language Code knc   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Kanuri, Yerwa
Language Code knc   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Kanuri, Yerwa

Primary Language:  Kanuri, Yerwa

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1949)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1997-1998)
Bible-Complete No
Bible-NT Audio Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video God's Story video God's Story
Film / Video Video / Animation Create International
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Kanuri, Central Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children Jesus Film Project
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2023  Kerry Olson  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source Anonymous  
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.