Photo Source: Alfonso Castellanos - Wikimedia Creative Commons
Map Source: People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
|Christian Adherents:||0.00 %|
|Online Audio NT:||No|
|Affinity Bloc:||Sub-Saharan Peoples|
The name jula means "itinerant trader," and the Jula (AKA, Dyula) people are still well respected for their trading abilities. The trading posts established by the Jula for hundreds of years eventually morphed into market villages and cities. They have left their mark on West African history and economy. The Jula are the descendants of the Malinke (Mandingo), inheritors of the ancient Mali empire. Situated between the Arab world to the north and the black African nations to the south, Mali has always been the cultural crossroads of western Africa. The result is a cultural mix that the Jula contribute to through their music, dance, and beautiful jewelry. By the time the Mali Empire was at its peak in the 1300s, the Jula had made Mali their trade base for West Africa. They traded gold, millet, slaves, cola nuts and anything else of value. Later, the Maninka rulers of Mali began spreading Islam throughout the African plains, and the Jula became strong converts. Today most live along the trade routes of West Africa. Jula clans have settled in Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, and Mali. They speak Jula, a Mande language that belongs to the Nilo-Congo language family.
Jula society is hierarchical and caste based. They live in clans, and the clan is the most important aspect of their lives. The people are fiercely loyal to their clans, defending them proudly. They express their history and devotion through the traditions of dance and storytelling. The father is the head of the family and inheritances are passed down from fathers to their sons. Older males possess the most power and influence. The Jula began settling in towns during the 1500s. Some founded their own independent villages; others chose to settle in larger towns for greater commercial opportunities. As a result, most Jula communities became politically subservient to the kings and chiefs of other ethnic groups. As merchants, it often benefited them to maintain good relationships with their neighbors. Among the Jula, there is generally a division of labor according to gender. Weaving, fighting, and studying Islam were traditionally male activities; while, spinning, cooking, and tending to the children were the responsibilities of the women. However, both men and women engaged in trade. The Jula still practice polygamy (multiple spouses) and youths are encouraged to marry within their own clans. They prefer marriages between cousins. Girls usually marry at age 16. It is surprising that nearly half of the population is under the age of 15 and few live beyond age 45. Therefore, the Jula have great respect for the elderly, especially if a man is an Islamic scholar. The fundamental moral principles of the Jula include obedience, honesty, and dedication to their people. Such precepts are motivated by a sense of human dignity.
Over 80 percent of Jula are Sunni Muslim. Most of the others, whom the Muslims call pagans, hold traditional animistic beliefs (believe that non-living objects have spirits). West African Islam does, however, generally retain local traditions and is more tolerant of diversity than elsewhere. The Jula people hold Muslim scholars in high esteem. They are responsible for educating the people in the teachings of the Koran. Their religious ideals share several similarities with Christianity: the belief in one God who is eternal, creator, omniscient; the existence of protecting spirits (or angels); the concept of the sanctuary or the holy of holies; and they even have a belief in the second coming of Jesus.
The complete Bible has been translated into the Jula language. There is a need for more workers to take Bibles and culturally appropriate worship music to the Jula people.
Pray for the Lord to bless the Jula people of Ghana as a testimony of his goodness and power. Pray for good fruit to come from efforts to take Christ to the Jula people. Pray for spiritual openness among the Jula people in Ghana. Pray for a movement to Christ among the Jula people this decade.