Nyiman, Ama in Sudan

Nyiman, Ama
Photo Source:  Anonymous 
Map Source:  Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
People Name: Nyiman, Ama
Country: Sudan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 191,000
World Population: 191,000
Primary Language: Ama
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 2.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.40 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Nubian
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Nubians consist of seven non-Arab Muslim tribes which originated in the Nubia region, an area between Aswan in southern Egypt and Dongola in northern Sudan. One of these tribes is the Nyiman. For centuries, this territory was a crossroads between Egypt and the African tribal kingdoms.

From the 1500s until the 1800s, the Ottoman Empire encroached upon the Nubia region. As a result, many Nubians migrated to remote areas along the Nile. Distinct groups evolved and were named according to their locations. For example, those who settled near the Wadi Kenuz became known as the Kenuzi while those who settled in Dongola became known as the Dongolawi.

In the 1960s, many of the Nubian villages were flooded as a result of the construction of the Aswan High Dam. About 100,000 Nubians were forced to resettle in "New Nubia," 20 miles north of Aswan. Others relocated in Uganda and Kenya. Most Nubian groups speak their own dialect of the Nubian language. For example the Nyiman people speak Ama. However, many also speak Arabic which is the common language of business and trade. Although their languages are different, each group is identical in social, economic and cultural organization.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Nyiman economy is based on agriculture. During the winter months, they grow wheat, barley, millet, beans, peas and watermelons. Mangoes, citrus fruits and palm dates are also part of the Nyiman diet. A thin, coarse bread called dura is one of their basic staple foods. Pieces of the bread are usually piled on top of each other and eaten with vegetables and sauces or are spread with date jelly.

In old Nubia, men migrated to the big cities to find work, while the women farmed the land, cared for the animals, and did household chores. Today, since the land is located far from their dwellings, men do most of the field work while the women work at the home. Some women have also found employment as schoolteachers, public service workers, and seamstresses. Some of the men now own grocery stores or drive cabs.

The typical Nyiman house is very spacious, with several large rooms that are able to accommodate the extended family members and guests. In the center of each home is an open courtyard. The front of the house is colorfully painted with geometric patterns. Most of the paintings and decorations on the homes have religious connotations. The colorful designs are a distinctive and admired feature of Nyiman culture.

For centuries, the Nyimans often held lengthy religious and agricultural ceremonies. However, since relocation, the ceremonies have been shortened and are now limited to the villages. During these ceremonies, the Nyimans express themselves through singing, dancing and beating drums.

Though the Nubians were mostly Christians in the sixth century, they are now almost all Muslims. Most of them do not have many Christian resources nor mission agencies working among them.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Nubians were converted to Christianity during the sixth century. They remained so until the gradual process of Islamization began taking place from the fourteenth until the seventeenth centuries. Today, the Nubians are almost all Muslims. However, their traditional animistic beliefs (belief that non-living objects have spirits) are still mingled with their Islamic practices.

Their traditional beliefs were centered on the spirit of the Nile. The Nile is believed to have life-sustaining power and to hold the power of life and death within it. The people believe that the river is endowed with angels, sheiks (religious leaders) and other powerful beings. The sheiks are sought daily for their advice in the areas of health, fertility and marriage.

What Are Their Needs?

Intense prayer, increased evangelism efforts, and additional Christian resources are necessary to reach these tribes who desperately need the love of the only savior.

Prayer Points

Pray that the Lord will raise up laborers who are willing to invest long term service as missionaries to the Nyiman Nubians.
Pray that loving African Christians will gain a vision to see the Nyiman Nubians reached with the gospel.
Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Nyiman Nubians who will boldly declare the gospel.
Pray that God will raise up linguists to translate the word of God into each of the tribal languages.
Ask God to send medical teams and humanitarian aid workers to minister to the Nubians.
Pray that strong local fellowships of believers will be planted among each of the Nubian tribes.

Text Source:   Joshua Project