Songhai-Koyraboro in Nigeria

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Songhai Empire of West Africa of the 15th and 16th centuries was based on trade. Textiles, weapons and horses came North Africa. Slaves, salt and gold came up from the south. After the Songhai Empire fell to an army from Morocco, the majority of the common people stayed in Mali and Niger while many nobles traveled south to start a new life. The vast majority of the Songhai-Koyraboro live in Mali and Niger. A small group of Songhai-Koyraboro lives in northwest Nigeria near the Benin and Niger borders.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Since the Songhai constitute such a small number of people in Nigeria, they try to keep a low profile. The Muslim government generally leaves them alone. At times jihadist harass the Songhai but most of the time jihadists attack Christian and animist villages and towns. Songhai-Koyraboro men work the fields growing millet, grains, ground nuts, manioc, and maize. Women take care of children, have small plots of land and grow fruits and vegetables. Some families also raise cattle and goats for their meat and hides. A Songhai man may marry up to four wives if he can afford them. Most men have only one wife. Songhai parents encourage their sons to get a secondary education. Most girls may only attend primary schools for a few years before they begin working with their mothers to support the family. Young men get married in their middle twenties. Girls marry in their early or middle teens. First born sons often are pressured to marry a cousin in order to keep the wealth in the family. Elders rule village life making the judicial decisions and conducting affairs with outsiders. Songhai society was traditional with sons following the profession of their fathers. In previous times there were three castes among the Songhai community, nobles, peasants, and slaves.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Almost all Songhai-Koyraboro in Nigeria are Sunni, the largest branch of Islam. Their Islam is highly influenced by folk religion or a belief that spirits inhabit the objects of nature. Each village has a shaman who performs rituals to stop the evil spirits from bringing drought and harm to the harvest and animals. The shaman also gives out charms and amulets to protect the people. The Songhai-Koyraboro try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Muhammad. Sunnis believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols. The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. Friday is the day of rest in which Sunnis attend the local mosque.

What Are Their Needs?

Most Songhai-Koyraboro live simple, adequate lives except in times of drought. Unfortunately, these droughts occur regularly and have left many children as orphans. Malnutrition is a problem for many Songhai. A majority of the Songhai-Koyraboro have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel in their heart language. Christian workers can share the love of Jesus with the Songhai in practical ways.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send Christian agricultural workers, educators, and medical personnel to serve the Songhai-Koyraboro of Nigeria. Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom to mission agencies focusing on the Songhai. Ask the Lord to save key Songhai leaders who will boldly proclaim the good news. Pray that God will strengthen, embolden and protect the very few Songhai believers. Ask the Lord to raise up a Disciple Making Movement among the Koyraboro of Nigeria in this decade.

Scripture Prayers for the Songhai-Koyraboro in Nigeria.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2007-01-24
Global Prayer Digest: 2013-02-18
Global Prayer Digest: 2016-02-18
People Name General Songhai-Koyraboro
People Name in Country Songhai-Koyraboro
Population this Country 3,500
Population all Countries 2,168,000
Total Countries 5
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names East Songhai; Gao; Singhai; Songoy; Sonrhai; West Songhai
People ID 14989
ROP3 Code 109404
Country Nigeria
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 6  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Country Nigeria
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 6  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.16 %)
0.40 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
99.60 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Songhay, Koyraboro Senni (3,500 speakers)
Language Code ses   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Songhay, Koyraboro Senni (3,500 speakers)
Language Code ses   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Songhay, Koyraboro Senni

Primary Language:  Songhay, Koyraboro Senni

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (2004)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (2014)
Bible-Complete No
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Songhay, Koyraboro Senni Jesus Film Project
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels Bible Media Group/LUMO
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime Jesus Film Project
General Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
General Resources in Songhay General / Other
Mobile App Scripture files - download General / Other
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Songhay, Koyraboro Senni YouVersion Bibles
Text / Printed Matter Literacy primer for Songhay, Koyraboro Senni Literacy & Evangelism International
Text / Printed Matter Topical Scripture booklets and Bible studies World Missionary Press
Photo Source Lovelyn Obiakor - Wikimedia  Creative Commons 
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more