Swahili in Libya

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People Name: Swahili
Country: Libya
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 2,400
World Population: 1,208,300
Primary Language: Swahili
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
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 shepherds there. By the second century, 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. The Swahili language has many different dialects. A number of its words were borrowed from Arabic, the second language for many Swahili. As you could imagine from the mix of people who have joined under the "Swahili" umbrella, this language is very complicated. Though they are called "Swahili" by others, they prefer to be named according to their local settlements. Since that time, groups of Swahili have migrated to different parts of the coast, forming their own dialects and cultural variations. They are most likely to be living up and down the East African coast, and their highest populations are in Somalia and Tanzania. Many live in the countries of southern Africa. Some have scattered far and wide to places like Libya, some European nations, Saudi Arabia.

What Are Their Lives Like?

During the turbulent years Libya has faced since 2011, those who can have left for safer places. Some, no doubt, have participated in the ongoing fighting.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Swahili identify with Islam, and to them it is a way of life. Nearly all of the Swahili profess to be Muslims; however, many of their traditional pre-Islamic beliefs and practices still exist. 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?

Like other people in Libya, the Swahili need safety. They also need their physical and spiritual needs to be met.

Prayer Points

Pray for God's mercy on a people who live in a war-torn land. Pray for the Lord to give Swahili people the humility to come as beggars to the only one who can save them. Pray for the Lord to send his children as long-term ambassadors to the Swahili people in Libya. Pray for a Disciple Making Movement among the Swahili people.

Text Source:   Joshua Project