Introduction / History
The Susu are a group of farmers, traders, and fishermen who can be found primarily in Guinea. Other smaller communities are also located in Sierra Leone and Senegal. As descendants of the thirteenth century Mali Empire, the Susu moved to their present location after 1725, when the Fulani attempted to dominate them and managed to convert them to Islam.
The Susu live primarily in the coastal areas of Guinea, where there are many waterways and marshes. Their language, called Soso or Susu, serves as a major trade language in the region and is almost indistinguishable from the language of the Yalunka.
Because of these linguistic similarities, some people think that at one time the Susu and Yalunka were one group, living in the Fouta Djallon (Middle Guinea) region of the country. It is thought that Fula invaders separated the two groups, with the Susu moving southward and absorbing other peoples in the process.
What are their lives like?
The Susu are primarily farmers, with rice and millet being their two principal crops. Mangoes, pineapples, and coconuts are also grown. The women make various kinds of palm oil from palm nuts and also make peanut oil and soap. Children are expected to help with a large amount of the work.
The Susu are well-known as traders and as craftsmen of leather and metal. Other important activities include fishing and salt mining. Salt is mined during the dry season, and it may take a man three months of hard work to produce any substantial amount.
Houses are made of either mud or cement blocks, depending on the resources available. They are generally quite large in order to accommodate extended families. In the cities, roofs are most often made of corrugated iron, while in the rural areas, they are usually still made of thatch. Most cooking is done over open fires. Electricity is available in most places, but clean water is generally lacking. Humanitarian aid organizations are trying to help the Susu by digging wells throughout the area.
Although Western clothes can be obtained in the markets, most Susu women seem to prefer African dress. They usually wear African-style skirts that reach to their ankles. Older men wear loose-fitting cotton robes, but the younger men prefer Western-style clothing.
The extended family is important to the Susu. Polygamy (having more than one spouse) is allowed under Islamic law, but it is only practiced by those who can afford it. Although good relationships are valued, there are many conflicts with neighbors, especially when dealing with money or property. Thus, each village usually has its own "wise man," as well as an elected or appointed leader to help resolve conflicts.
The Friday meeting at the mosque remains an important social event for most Susu. There is some indication that the young men are perhaps growing disillusioned with both Islam and socialistic ideas. Today, many of them are moving to the cities, where they have been plagued with poverty and idleness.
Formal education follows the French academic system. In the past, the government attempted to offer education in the local languages but were alarmed at the high rate of illiteracy in French that resulted. Thus, today, instruction is offered only in French. Guinea now has a low literacy rate; however, quite a few of the Susu know Arabic, having learned to read the Koran at an early age.
What are their beliefs?
The Susu are largely Muslim, and Islam dominates their religious culture and practices. Most Islamic holidays are observed, the most important being celebration that follows Ramadan (a month of prayer and fasting).
What are their needs?
Because of a history of Christianity in the region, the Susu have been somewhat evangelized. Prayer is needed further to impact them with the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to call loving Christians who will take the Gospel to the Susu of Guinea.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom, favor, and unity to missions agencies focusing on the Susu.
* Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Susu through dreams and visions.
* Pray that God will give the Susu believers many opportunities to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Susu church for the glory of His name!
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