Introduction / History
The Mandara (or Wandala) tribe is located just south of Lake Chad in both northern Cameroon and Nigeria. Their native language, called Wandala (or Kirdi-Mora), belongs to the Chadic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. The Mandara occupy areas of the savanna in which mounds of rocks can be seen high above the plains. They also occupy a mountainous area where the Gotel and Mandara Mountains meet. This hot, tropical region has only 30 inches of rainfall each year. Baboons, chimpanzees, eagles, and giant hawks are among the animals that can be found there.
The Mandara are among other tribes of Sudanic herdsmen who migrate seasonally with their animals, searching for fresh grazing lands. In contrast, the tribes of southern Cameroon live in permanent villages in the forests. The northern tribes are primarily Muslim; whereas, the people of the southern areas follow traditional beliefs or Christianity.
What are their lives like?
Most of the Mandara survive by farming. They do not use modern equipment, but cultivate their crops with hoes. Corn and millet are their staple crops, but beans, peas, yams, pumpkins, and tobacco are also grown. North African and Egyptian influences can also be seen by the use of irrigation, manure fertilizer, and the cultivation of garlic, melons, onions, and wheat. Animal breeding is another important part of the Mandara's lives. Most families raise cattle, small horses, goats, sheep, dogs, chickens, and bees, all of which contribute to their livelihood.
Local markets can be found outside most Mandara villages. Specialized craft items are sold, and strips of cotton and cowrie shells are used as a means of exchange. Caravans travel through the region, transporting cotton fabrics, leather goods, and kola nuts from a neighboring province. These and other items are exchanged for dried fish, ivory, and ostrich feathers.
Among the Mandara, the men hunt, fish, clear the land for cultivation, herd the large animals, and trade with the caravan merchants. The women's responsibilities include milking the animals and engaging in petty trade at the local markets. Some women also care for the smaller animals and do the agricultural field work.
The Mandara live in compact villages that are grouped in rectangular compounds. Each compound, which contains several small huts, is surrounded by a dirt wall. The huts have straw thatch roofs and walls made of woven grass mats. A headman lives in the center of the village and oversees the entire community. An Islamic mosque is also located in the center of the village, and the religious leader assists the headman in the decision-making.
The Mandara live in a patriarchal (male dominated) society. All inheritances are passed down from fathers to their eldest sons. Their society is also patrilocal, which means that newlywed couples live among the groom's family. A marriage usually involves the payment of a bride-price in the form of livestock or money. Polygyny (having multiple wives) is a common practice among the Mandara. The first wife, who is considered to be the "chief" wife, has authority over the other wives.
What are their beliefs?
The Mandara are almost all Malikite Muslim. Like the other northern Cameroon, Sudanic-influenced tribes, Islam penetrates deep into their lives. They adhere to the Islamic beliefs and traditions, which include praying five times a day, fasting during prescribed periods, and giving alms to the poor. Theirs is a religion of works based on the belief in one god, Allah, and in the teachings of his prophet, Mohammed.
What are their needs?
The Mandara currently have the New Testament in their language. However, this effort to evangelize the Mandara has resulted in very few of their population becoming Christian. Increased intercession, discipleship materials, and ministry tools are needed to effectively spread the Gospel among this tribe.
* Ask the Lord to call loving African believers to share Christ with their Muslim neighbors, the Mandara.
* Pray for God's wisdom and favor to be on the missions agencies that are working among this tribe.
* Ask God to protect the Mandara Christians as they share the message of salvation with their friends and families.
* Ask the Lord to raise up intercessors who will faithfully stand in the gap for the Mandara.
* Pray that God will save key Mandara leaders who will boldly proclaim the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Mandara of Cameroon.