Introduction / History
The Jola Bliss (also known as the Diola-Kasa) of Senegal are located in the southwestern corner of the country. The various peoples of this region of Africa are collectively known as the Sene-Gambians because the majority reside in Senegal and Gambia. Some of them, however, live in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Mauritania. The Jola Bliss speak a language called Jola-kasa, which is a member of the Niger-Congo family of languages.
The population of Senegal consists of a diversity of ethnic groups. The largest of these groups are the Wolof, followed by the Fulani and Tukulor, the Serer, the Diola, and the Malinke. More than three-quarters of Senegal's population is engaged in agriculture, even though only less than one-third of the land area is suitable for farming. Nevertheless, Senegal is among the world's largest producers of peanuts, which are grown in many areas of the country, especially the northwest.
What are their lives like?
The chief economic activity of Senegal is agriculture, with peanuts and peanut oil providing a significant share of yearly export earnings. However, this has declined in recent years, from 29% of the earnings in the early 1980's to 12% in the early 1990's. Attempts are being made to diversify agriculture and to achieve self-sufficiency by expanding rice and tomato cultivation.
Little is known about the specific culture and traditions of the Kasa; thus, some assumptions have been made in this profile based on the lifestyles of the neighboring groups. Like most of the peoples of West Africa, the Kasa are assumed to be farmers. A variety of crops are raised in this region, using very basic tools. Maize, manioc, and rice are the staples, but squash, melons, sweet potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes are also grown. Major tree crops include bananas, coconuts, mangoes, and papayas. The Kasa raise cattle, sheep, and goats but do not use their milk. Dogs and chickens are seen in almost every village. Hunting is of less importance than agriculture, but there is considerable gathering of wild fruits and roots; berries; and kola, shea, and palm nuts. The Kasa live in extended family compounds, each consisting of a cluster of huts usually arranged in a circle around an open space. Often the entire compound is surrounded by a fence, hedge, or wall. The compounds usually adjoin to form compact villages. In general, the dwellings are round with mud walls and cone-shaped, thatched roofs. However, many local variations exist.
In the Jola Bliss community, men hunt, fish, clear the land, and tend to the cattle. The women do the gathering and help some in the agricultural work. Chiefs exercise political authority in the village. Succession usually passes to the next brother or to the oldest son of the deceased's elder sister.
Circumcision of males is practiced, and some female circumcision is also continued. These practices are mainly associated with initiation ceremonies at puberty and typically involve a period of instruction in an isolated "bush school."
The Jola Bliss prefer cousins as marriage partners. A bride-price in livestock is paid, and often, premarital bride-service is also required. Polygamy occurs to only a limited extent. In such cases, however, each wife has her own hut, and the husband spends a fixed period with each on a rotation basis.
What are their beliefs?
The great majority of the people in Senegal are Muslim. Some of the population is Christian, and some practice ethnic religions. Among the Kasa, approximately three-quarters are Muslim. The rest are either Christians or ethnic religionists.
What are their needs?
In addition to Christian laborers, leadership development and discipleship materials are needed to help continue the growth of the Church.
* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers to work among the Jola Bliss of Senegal.
* Pray that the Holy Spirit will soften the hearts of the Jola Bliss towards Christians so they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Jola Bliss through dreams and visions.
* Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Jola Bliss who will boldly proclaim the Gospel.
* Pray that signs and wonders will follow the Jola Bliss believers as they share Christ with their families and friends.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Senegal through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Jola Bliss church for the glory of His name!
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