Swahili in Greece

Swahili
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People Name: Swahili
Country: Greece
10/40 Window: No
Population: 5,800
World Population: 1,797,700
Primary Language: Swahili
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 5.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.30 %
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.

More recently, Africans have come to Greece and other countries in Europe seeking for work, freedom, and a chance to start anew.

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 Greece.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Since A.D. 2000, some 61,000 Swahili speakers have immigrated to Greece from East Africa. Among them are some Christians, numbering some five percent of Greece's Swahili population. They have settled in three metropolitan areas, including Athens. Some are well-known athletes. Muslim or Christian, athlete or not, they fear racism. Africans definitely stand out in Greece. Gender roles are very different between post-modern Greeks 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. Greece has religious freedom, so it would be especially easy for someone to reach them there. Who will do it?

Prayer Points

* Pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be done among the Muslim Swahili people in Greece.
* Pray for a movement of Swahili households to study the Bible and accept the blessings of Christ.
* Pray for a spiritual hunger that will drive the Swahili people to the arms of Jesus.
* Pray for workers who are filled with the fruit and the power of the Holy Spirit to go to the Swahili people.

Text Source:   Keith Carey