Swahili in Denmark

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People Name: Swahili
Country: Denmark
10/40 Window: No
Population: 1,000
World Population: 1,157,000
Primary Language: Swahili
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 1.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Bantu, Swahili
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The name Swahili literally means "coast," and is the name given to several people groups that share a common culture (Uswahili), language (Kiswahili), and religion (Islam).

Thousands of years ago, groups of hunters inhabited the East African coast and intermarried with the Cushite shepherds there. By the second century, Bantu-speaking people from Northern Congo came to the area and intermarried with them. Subsequent groups of people migrating from other areas such as the Persian Gulf also joined these coastal people, adopting parts of their culture and language. Later, Indonesian, Hindi, and Portuguese traders settled on the coast. Soon, they too began adopting Swahili traits and became a part of the larger group.

Since that time, groups of Swahili have migrated to different parts of the coast, forming their own dialects and cultural variations. The Swahili language has many different dialects. A number of its words were borrowed from Arabic, the second language for many Swahili.

Where Are they Located?

Today, the Swahili are scattered along Eastern Africa and the Persian Gulf, from Saudi Arabia to Zambia. Though they are called "Swahili" by others, they prefer to be named according to their local settlements. A small number live in Denmark.

What Are Their Lives Like?

It is awkward for people to stand out. Africans definitely stand out among tall, blonde-haired Danes. Sometimes they are asked embarrassing questions about being HIV positive, or something having to do with stereotypes of Africans. Gender roles are very different between post-modern Danes and Muslim Africans like the Swahili.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Nearly all of the Swahili profess to be Muslims; however, they have kept many of their traditional pre-Islamic beliefs and practices. For example, they believe in many spirits - both good and evil. They also believe in the supernatural power of witches and sorcerers. The Swahili often have folk explanations for natural occurrences. For example, some believe that a cow is supporting the earth and that earthquakes are caused when the cow moves its horns. They believe that thunder is the sound of God speaking with the angels and that lightning occurs when God is pleased. To the Swahili, lightning is a good sign because it means that God will send plentiful rain and food that year.

What Are Their Needs?

Although Christian resources are available in the Swahili language, there are only a small number of Swahili believers. Laborers who are sensitive to their Muslim culture are greatly needed to work among the Swahili. Denmark has religious freedom, so it would be especially easy for someone to reach them there. Who will do it?

Prayer Points

Pray for gospel workers to catch a vision for reaching the Swahili people in Denmark for Jesus and that in God's sovereign timing their hearts would be open and ready to follow Him.
Pray for Jesus movements to bless extended Muslim Swahili families so the gospel will spread rapidly among this people group.
Pray for the spiritual lives of the Swahili people to become fruitful as they follow Christ.
Pray for the lives and culture of the Swahili people to evidence the rule and reign of the Kingdom of God as they open to the gospel, and for the beauty of Jesus to be seen in them.

Text Source:   Keith Carey