Jola-Gusilay in Senegal

Jola-Gusilay
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Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Jola-Gusilay
Country: Senegal
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 25,000
World Population: 25,000
Primary Language: Gusilay
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 1.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.03 %
Scripture: Translation Started
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Atlantic-Jola
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

A number of scholars have linked the Gusilay to the neighboring Balante tribe, who are a sub-group of the Jola. The Gusilay language, also called Gusilay, is part of the Niger-Congo language family. The Jola-Gusilay of Senegal are located in the southeastern region of the country along the border of Guinea-Bissau. The various people groups in this region of Africa are collectively known as the Sene-Gambians because most reside in Senegal and Gambia. Some, however, live in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Mauritania.

What Are Their Lives Like?

While little detail is known about the specific lifestyle of the Jola-Gusilay, we can assume they are subsistence farmers like most other West African peoples. They grow a variety of crops, using very basic tools. Maize, manioc, and rice are the staple crops, but they also grow squash, melons, sweet potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes. Major tree crops include bananas, coconuts, mangoes, and papayas. The Jola-Gusilay raise cattle, sheep, and goats, but do not use their milk. You will find dogs and chickens in almost every Jola-Gusilay village. Hunting is of less importance than agriculture, but there is considerable gathering of wild fruits and roots; berries; and kola, shea and palm nuts. The Jola-Gusilay live in extended family compounds, each consisting of a cluster of huts that are arranged in a circle around an open space. Often the entire compound is surrounded by a fence, hedge, or wall. The compounds usually adjoin to form compact villages. In general, the dwellings are round with mud walls and cone-shaped, thatched roofs. However, many local variations exist. In the Jola-Gusilay community, men hunt, fish, clear the land, and tend to the cattle. The women do the gathering and help some in the agricultural work. Chiefs exercise political authority in the villages. Succession usually passes to the next brother, or to the oldest son of the deceased chief's oldest sister. They practice circumcision of males, and unfortunately there is a twisted form of circumcision for females. These practices are mainly associated with initiation ceremonies at puberty and typically involve a period of instruction in an isolated "bush school. "The Jola-Gusilay prefer cousins as marriage partners. The husband to be's family pays a bride-price in livestock, and her family requires him to work for them before the marriage. There is some polygamy (having more than one wife) but only to a limited extent. In such cases, however, each wife has her own hut, and the husband spends a fixed period with each on a rotation basis.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Jola-Gusilay are largely Sunni Muslim. As such, they attempt to follow the basic precepts of Islam. These include belief in one god (Allah), daily prayers, fasting (especially during the holy month of Ramadan), almsgiving, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once, if possible. Another one-quarter of the Gusilay are ethnic religionists, practicing various tribal religions. Pre-Islamic animistic practices taint their form of Islam.

What Are Their Needs?

The Gusilay need the chance to embrace Jesus Christ as lord so they can enjoy life to the full.

Prayer Points

Pray for an abundant harvest this year for the Jola-Gusilay as a testimony of God's goodness and power. Pray for spiritual openness to the one who is the way, the truth and the life. Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among the Jola-Gusilay people. Pray for Jola-Gusilay leaders to welcome those who come bearing the name of the only savior.

Text Source:   Joshua Project