Aji in Indonesia

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Anonymous  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Aji
Country: Indonesia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 17,000
World Population: 17,000
Primary Language: Haji
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.27 %
Evangelicals: 0.27 %
Scripture: Unspecified
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Melayu of Sumatra
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Aji are a small community who live in a mountainous area of South Sumatra. They are often called the Haji people because according to a folktale they are descendants of a "Haji" (a person who has completed the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca). The Aji live in 14 villages, 11 of which are clustered together in the Muara Dua District of southern Ogan Komering Ulu Regency (OKU).
In the time of the Majapahit Kingdom, the Aji were ruled by a duke from Majapahit who lived in Saka Aji (Tanjung Raya Village). They did not want to be colonized by the Netherlands and formed an army in defense.
According to a local folktale, the Aji language was created from twelve different languages, when the ancestor of the Aji arrived late to the distribution of languages. In the end he was forced to ask for a just a little bit of language from each of twelve other people groups, which combined to become the Aji language.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Today, social stratification is still based on the hierarchy of the Aji Army, including Ratu (King), Panglima (Commander), Kerio Perang (Troops) and ordinary people. Traditional institutions handle social issues such as sanctions and penalties for those who violate the local law. The judicial and legal system governed by this local customary law is called "Sumber Karta 12".
The Aji live in mixed communities with the Daya and Komering people. The Aji have a very small population, quite different from the larger neighboring people groups such as the Ogan, Daya and Komering. The Aji language differs from that of other surrounding people groups and cannot be understood by them. However, the Aji can speak almost all the languages of South Sumatra. They are very proud of this fact, which they often bring up when they speak to outsiders.
The Aji people make a living by growing two crops: coffee and rubber. Coffee as a commodity represents the primary source of income for the flatland areas of South Sumatra including the Aji homeland. However, almost all Aji young people move out of the area searching for jobs in other areas. Most of them go to Java Island, with Jakarta as the most frequent destination. Aji people also raise small livestock as a source of income. Most Aji families own goats or chickens as household pets.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Aji are Muslims, and one can find a mosque in each of their villages. However, they still practice cultic worship of objects that were passed down to them by their ancestors, including war relics. The Aji maintain good relationships with people of other religions and no religious disturbances have been reported in their area.

What Are Their Needs?

Small business management and home industry training could help reduce poverty in Aji areas and bring work opportunities to young Aji people. Today, almost all Aji young people leave the Aji area in search of work.

Prayer Points

Ask God to send the Aji workers who can train the people in launching and managing small businesses.
Thank God for the Aji's openness to relationships with people from different religions; ask him to use that openness to create opportunities for gospel conversations.
Ask God to raise up persons of peace among the Aji, who will open the doors to the spread of the gospel among the people.
Pray for translation of the New Testament into the Haji language.
Pray for a movement of multiplying disciples and churches among the Aji.

Text Source:   Joshua Project