Photo Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
|Primary Language:||Arabic, Chadian Spoken|
|Christian Adherents:||0.01 %|
|Online Audio NT:||No|
|Affinity Bloc:||Sub-Saharan Peoples|
The Masalit (and a group of the same people known as the Massalat) are a non-Arab ethnic group. These tribes live in the most remote areas of Sudan and Chad. The Masalit of Sudan are concentrated in the Dar Masalit ("home of Masalit") district of the northern Darfur Province. The Massalat of Chad live in the Adre District. Most of the Massalat and some Masalit live near the city of Gereida in southern Darfur, as well as in the Oum Hadjer-Am Dam area of Chad.
It is unclear whether the word Massalat is an Arabic form of "Masalit," or if the Massalat are actually an offshoot of the Dar Masalit people. It is certain, however, that the two groups are in close contact with each other and share similar customs and traditions. Both the Masalit and the Massalat speak Maba languages.
In times past, the Massalat were known as fierce warriors who fought hard to protect their independence. Today, they are becoming more settled because of outside political, economic, and cultural influences. They grow millet, sorghum, peanuts, sesame, okra, and various fruits. They also gather honey, gum, leaves, and other useful products from the forests. Most of their grain harvest is for domestic use, but they sell most of the other crops. The Masalit get additional income by selling animals, tanning hides, sewing, transporting goods, and brewing a type of millet-beer.
Besides farming, the Masalit raise cattle, sheep, and goats, which are helpful in fertilizing their fields, as well as providing milk for the villagers. Though donkeys were their only means of transportation in the past, camels purchased from Arab nomads have recently become an important means of transportation.
Both men and women cultivate the fields, own land and animals, make decisions, and store their harvests separately. Although they share most of the household tasks, including raising the children, all of their financial responsibilities are kept separate. Some of the older Massalat children have their own fields where they cultivate their own crops.
The men tend to the livestock while the women cook, care for the young children, gather wood, and draw water. Economic activities are usually the responsibility of each individual. Therefore, each person takes responsibility for his own work.
Most of the Massalat live as nuclear families in village settlements. They make their homes from forest products. They make their walls of grass mats, and the cone-shaped roofs are thatched with wild grasses. They are round and strong wooden posts and poles hold their frames up. The huts are situated closely together to form small compounds. Fences made from millet stalks surround the compounds. Each village comprises several compounds.
Inside each village is a central masik, which is a shaded clearing where men gather to eat, drink, pray, socialize, and discuss village affairs. The women do not socialize at the masik but visit one another at the village well or in each other’s homes.
Masalit marriages take place between couples in their early 20s. They permit polygamy and many men have two wives, sometimes more. Unfortunately, divorce is common among the Masalit.
Before a marriage is finalized, a man must pay a bride-price to the woman’s family. They also require him to build a house in the bride’s mother’s compound. The couple will live in that house for at least one year while the new husband works in his mother-in-law’s fields. When the couple has their first child, they then decide whether to stay in their home or resettle near the husband’s family. This decision largely depends on the availability of fields.
The Massalat began converting to Islam during the 1600s; and today they are completely Muslim. Islam is a major world religion that is based on the teachings of Mohammed. Muslims believe the angel Gabriel gave the Koran, the holy book of Islam, to Mohammed.
The Massalat are increasingly becoming more orthodox in their faith. Islamic laws dominate their political and social lives and their values. Today, most Masalit abstain from alcohol, pray five times a day, and seek religious counsel for important matters.
Although there is audio, video, and printed biblical material in Chadian Arabic, most of the Massalat have not heard a clear presentation of the gospel. This is due in part to their geographical isolation, so access to these resources can be a primary obstacle.
Although a few mission agencies have worked among the Massalat of Chad, we don’t know of anyone working among them in Sudan. There is a need for fervent intercession and further evangelistic efforts to help turn the hearts of the Masalit toward Jesus.
Ask the Lord to send forth laborers to work among the Massalat of north central Africa.
Ask God to use the small number of Massalat believers to share Christ with their own people.
Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Sudan and Chad through intercession.
Pray that the Lord will save key Massalat leaders who will boldly declare the gospel.
Ask the Lord to bring forth a movement to Christ resulting in a strong Massalat church for the glory of his name!