Krahn, Western in Côte d'Ivoire

Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Krahn, Western
Country: Côte d'Ivoire
10/40 Window: No
Population: 25,000
World Population: 133,000
Primary Language: Krahn, Western
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 4.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.50 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Kru
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Most likely, the ancestors of the Western Krahn people moved there in the 16th century. This land was so fertile they called it the "Grain Coast." They arrived from the northeast and east, where strong tribal kingdoms flourished. They probably moved there due to pressure from ethnic groups in what is now Sudan after the kingdoms declined and could no longer protect the local people. A hundred years earlier Portuguese explorers had already reached Africa's west coast and began trading in slaves and ivory. Europeans did not move inland until the 1830s when the French signed treaties with coastal rulers. As part of the French expansion, Cote d'Ivoire was made a colony in 1893. The French were bitterly resisted, however, and there were frequent revolts. There are Western Krahn people in Cote d'Ivoire, but most of them live over the border in Liberia. Traditionally they were hunters, but as time went on, they became either farmers or fishermen.

What Are Their Lives Like?

We know very little about the lifestyle of the Western Krahn people, but we can extrapolate based on other people groups in this part of West Africa. We can safely assume they are farmers who grow millet, sorghum, and other crops. They use some crop rotation and irrigation, and they keep small numbers of cattle and other animals. Hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants provide additional food. Settlements consist of a small number of mud huts with cone-shaped roofs made of palm leaves or thatch. These huts are grouped irregularly around a center court that serves as a meeting place. In a particular locality, a clan composed of a local lineage dominates. Many settlements are actually an extended family acting as an economic unit. Each extended family has a headman, who offers sacrifices to the ancestral spirits. The headman is succeeded by his oldest sister's eldest son, who then leaves his own compound to assume his new role. Each village (group of settlements) has a religious chief and headmen to handle village affairs and disputes. Many of the Western Krahn men have more than one wife, and they practice levirate (compulsory marriage of a widow to her dead husband's brother) and the sororate (compulsory marriage of a woman to her dead or barren sister's husband). Most girls are betrothed while they are very young. Marriages are arranged by either the father or the extended family head. When a man marries his bride may join him or remain in her father's home. If she remains with her father, her daughters stay with her, but her sons join their fathers at a young age. Western Krahn social structure is relatively democratic without rigid classes. However, slavery was once present in the area, and castes of smiths and leather workers are still despised. Society is patrilineal, with lines of descent and inheritances traced through the males. Private property is passed to the eldest son, and household property, to the father's younger brother. Married sons live in the household of their fathers.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Nearly all of the Western Krahn still practice various forms of animism, believing that non-human objects have spirits. In particular, they practice ancestor worship, praying to deceased relatives for guidance or protection. The Western Krahn believe that the supreme god is too distant to worship directly; therefore, the only way to serve or worship him is through a spirit. Often they worship a statue or other object believed to house a spirit. In return, the spirit takes their worship to the supreme god. They also believe in bush spirits, so they are afraid to venture too far without their permission. The growth of Christianity in Cote d'Ivoire suffers from the quick rise and fall of prophetic sects, but a segment of the population is Christian (mostly Roman Catholic or Methodist). However, few of the Western Krahn are Christians. There so many who are Christians in neighboring Liberia that they are not an unreached people group there.

What Are Their Needs?

The Western Krahn need the opportunity to put their faith in Jesus Christ, the solid rock rather than local spirits that can do nothing but harm them.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Holy Spirit to give the Western Krahn people teachable and understanding hearts. Pray that a strong movement of the Holy Spirit will bring entire Western Krahn families into a rich experience of God's blessing. Pray for Western Krahn families to be drawn by the Holy Spirit to seek forgiveness, and to understand the adequacy of Christ's work on the cross. Pray for teams of believers to do sustained, focused prayer for the Lord to open the hearts of Western Krahn family leaders to experience God's blessing through a movement to Christ.

Text Source:   Joshua Project