Kulango, Bouna in Côte d'Ivoire

Kulango, Bouna
Photo Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center 
Map Source:  People Group Location from SIL. Other map data / geography from GMI. Map by Joshua Project.
People Name: Kulango, Bouna
Country: Côte d'Ivoire
10/40 Window: No
Population: 264,000
World Population: 297,000
Primary Language: Kulango, Bouna
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 4.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.80 %
Scripture: Translation Started
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Gur
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Kulango originated in the northeastern part of Cote d'Ivoire near Bouna. They eventually occupied Bondoukou (south of Bouna) as well. Some have since moved across the border from Bondoukou into the central western regions of Ghana. The Kulango in Cote d'Ivoire are called Bouna Kulango and also as Bondoukou Kulango. The Kulango speak Kulango Bouna (or Nkurange), a Gur language from the Niger Congo language family.

The Kulango are closely related to the Lobi, their former enemies. The two groups occupy the same region and share similar languages, customs, religious beliefs, and lifestyles. The Kulango live in a very hot region with only one annual rainy season. They sometimes suffer from dry spells, which makes farming quite difficult. While most of the Kulango continue living as farmers, many of the young people have migrated southward in search of work in the cities.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Kulango are primarily farmers, growing yams, maize, beans, peanuts, okra, peppers, cotton, bananas, papayas, and watermelons. Some of the farmers also breed goats, sheep, and cattle. The women gather wild fruits and nuts, while the men do most of the agricultural work. The women also tend small vegetable gardens at home.

The once fertile Kulango region has become almost entirely bush; therefore, the Kulango and other groups in the region are migrating southward in search of new farm land. When a man finds a plot he wishes to farm, he settles there and works until he has earned enough money to build a house for his family, who then joins him. Some of the Kulango have moved to the cities and found wage-paying jobs as mechanics, taxi drivers, or office clerks.

Each Kulango village is made up of several small settlements. The settlements consist of a number of mud huts with cone-shaped roofs made of palm leaves or thatch. The huts are grouped around a center court, which serves as a meeting place. Every settlement is made up of several extended families, each of which is its own economic unit. The male head of each extended family is responsible for offering sacrifices to the ancestral spirits. He is succeeded by his oldest sister's eldest son. All disputes and community affairs are handled by the village headmen and the religious chief.

Most Kulango girls are betrothed while they are quite young. Marriages are arranged by either the girl's father or the extended family head. When a man marries, his bride may either join him or remain in her father's home. If she remains with her father, her daughters live with her, and her sons join their father when they are able to walk and talk.

The Kulango celebrate many festivals, such as the annual yam festival. This is a time when parents and children exchange gifts, and then eat a meal of mashed yams and soup. There is also a festival for the dead, in which the gods and ancestors are asked for guidance and prosperity. Dances and singing are part of both festivals.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Throughout the centuries, Dyula Muslim traders have come into the Kulango region with the intention of converting the locals to Islam. However, the Kulango have resisted, and today, only a fairly small percentage are Muslim. The majority continue to practice their traditional ethnic religions. They believe in a supreme god who is not worshipped but is addressed in association with mother earth. The earth god, Tano, is a god of the whole tribe. There is a shrine set up for Tano, and a yearly festival is held in his honor. During disasters or hard times, the Kulango pray to the spirits of their ancestors and make offerings of mashed yams. The spirits are believed to inhabit certain wild animals as well as various objects of nature: thunder, lightning, water, etc.

What Are Their Needs?

Though some of the Kulango have accepted Christ, most of the others have not yet heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. Bible resources and other evangelistic tools are needed to see these people reached for Christ.

Prayer Points

* Ask God to raise prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Cote d'Ivoire through worship and intercession.
* Ask God to save key Kulango leaders who will boldly declare the Gospel in their villages.
* Pray that the Lord will strengthen and encourage the Kulango who have given their lives to Christ.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to complete the work begun in the hearts of these believers.
* Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Kulango.

Text Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center