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Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
|Primary Language:||Arabic, Sudanese Spoken|
|Christian Adherents:||0.00 %|
|Online Audio NT:||No|
|People Cluster:||Arab, Sudan|
|Affinity Bloc:||Arab World|
The numerous Baggara tribes of northern Sudan such as the Maalia, share many cultural characteristics and claim a common ancestry. All of them speak an Arabic dialect known as Baggari that can be understood by both Arabic and Sudanese Arabic speakers. Their name comes from the Arabic word bagar, which means "cow," and refers to the various Arab tribes in Sudan (and surrounding nations), who herd cattle.
The Baggara have traced their origin back several centuries to the days before Mohammed. They claim to be connected to the Juhayna of the Hejaz (region of northwestern Saudi Arabia). Over the centuries, they have become widely scattered across the plains of North Central Africa. Different groups tend to be concentrated in certain regions, but there are no purely Baggara areas.
These Baggara tribes live in the plains of Sudan's Darfur, North Kordofan, and South Kordofan provinces. The region is well suited for grazing cattle and varies from sparse scrub lands in the northern areas to arid and semi-arid wilderness lands to wooded fields. It only rains during the wet season, primarily from June to September.
Most of the Baggara are herdsmen. Their herds are comprised primarily of cattle, although they often raise a few sheep and goats. They keep camels for riding and as pack animals. Like other Baggara tribes, the Maalia sometimes get in conflicts with settled farming communities. They also have to deal with kidnappers and other criminals.
The nomadic Baggara live in camp units called furgan. Members of the furgan generally belong to one or more family line. The Baggara live in simple, dome-shaped tents, which are portable structures that can be easily packed and moved with the herds. They build their tents by placing saplings into holes in the ground, then bending them over and tying them at the top. Then they tie smaller branches into the frame, then cover it all with thatch or canvas mats. The tents are arranged in a circle, into which the cattle are brought for the night to keep them from straying or being stolen.
The Baggara are somewhat unusual in that the women work to provide the income needed to maintain the households. They earn cash by milking the cows and selling the milk or milk products. Their earnings are either kept or spent on household items. A married woman owns the tent as well as all of its housekeeping contents. The men are primarily involved with caring for the herds. They also plant and harvest the crops.
The Maalia tribe prefers cross-cousin marriages. The future husband and his near relatives provide a bride price. Part of this money is used to purchase household items, while some of it is used to buy food for the marriage celebration that takes place in the bride's camp. After the wedding, the newlyweds live near the bride's parents. Later, they move to a place chosen by the husband. On this occasion, the groom's family provides another feast.
Weddings are a time for celebration with feasting, music and dancing; they are also a time for young couples to court and pair up. They also celebrate when someone returns from a long trip, the arrival of a visitor, or gaining an unexpected good fortune.
Maalia society is patrilineal, which means that the line of descent is traced through the males. Traditionally each camp is headed by a male leader called shaykh. Although this position is generally inherited, all of the adult male members of a camp must agree on the man who is to fill the position. The shaykh does not rule the camp, but rather acts as the spokesperson for the decision-making males of the camp. However, he may also have a considerable amount of influence, depending on his wisdom and economic status.
The Baggara tribes are almost completely Muslim. Eight of the groups are Sunnis, while the others belong to the Malikite sect. They strive to observe the "five pillars of Islam." Many of the men and some of the women are able to make pilgrimages to Mecca. In addition to their Islamic practice, the Maalia hold various religious celebrations and also place importance on many life stage transitions. They celebrate circumcision for boys, and unfortunately, a twisted form of circumcision for girls as well.
Very little evangelization has been done among the Maalia or any other Baggara tribe. The people are so devoted to the Islamic religion very few have decided to follow Jesus. In addition, the nomadic lifestyle makes it very difficult for missionaries to reach them.
There is a great need for qualified laborers to live and work among these Muslims. It will take concentrated prayer and dedicated workers to see a movement to Christ among the Maalia tribe.
Pray for the end of violence between the tribes of Sudan.
Pray for a spiritual hunger and thirst among the Maalia people that will lead them to find the Savior.
Pray for Holy Spirit directed workers to go to them with the gospel.
Pray for a Disciple Making Movement to sweep through all Baggara tribes.