Zarma in Mali

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Expanded PDF Profile

Introduction / History

In the 15th century there was an empire that controlled much of western and central Niger, and it was dominated by the Songhai-Zerma people. Today the Zerma are considered part of the larger Songhai cluster of peoples. The two groups treat each other as cousins and frequently intermarry.

Where Are they Located?

The bulk of the Zerma people live in Niger, but they live in six West African countries, including Mali, which is just to the west of Niger. Their population in Mali is very small compared with the other countries.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The most respected form of work for the Zerma people is farming. They raise millet, sorghum, beans, and peanuts as their staple crops. Each household also has its own garden where they grow vegetables. The Zerma people use basic, traditional farming tools without the aid of modern equipment like tractors. Many seasons their efforts are wiped out through pests or droughts. This people group has little time for leisure activity. They also raise livestock. A small number of Zerma people are fishermen, businessmen, or teachers.

As cultural Muslims, a man can take up to four wives, though this is usually reserved for older, wealthier men. When a man has more than one wife, each wife has a separate dwelling for her and her children. Zarma women must clean, cook, carry water, and care for the children. The household is the basic social unit among the Zerma. A typical Zerma home is either round with mud walls or is rectangular with walls made of sun-dried mud bricks. Most houses have straw thatched roofs.

The Zarma people are the second largest people group in Niger, and are also in a few other West African countries.
What Are Their Beliefs?

The Zarma people identify with the Islamic religion, and they have been Muslim for centuries. Their culture and customs are tied in with Islam. However, they also practice traditional religion. Wearing charms and amulets, and consulting mediums are part of their lives.

What Are Their Needs?

The Zerma people have put their faith and trust in spirits that come to kill, steal, and destroy them. They need the One who comes to give them life to the full.

The Zerma people could have much better crops if they had modern farming tools.

Prayer Points

Pray for the JESUS Film and gospel recordings to be widely distributed among the Zerma people.
Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers to work among the Zerma of Mali.
Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to mission agencies currently focusing on the Zerma people.
Pray for many Zerma elders to encounter the living Christ and lead their people to faith in the true Savior.

Scripture Prayers for the Zarma in Mali.


Profile Source:   Keith Carey  
Expanded PDF Profile

People Name General Zarma
People Name in Country Zarma
Pronunciation ZAR-mah
Population this Country 2,500
Population all Countries 4,945,000
Total Countries 6
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Dgerma; Djarma; Dyerma; Zabarma; Zabarmawa; Zaberma; Zerma
People ID 16100
ROP3 Code 111171
Country Mali
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 17  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Tillabéri and Dosso regions; also Niamey.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Mali
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 17  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Tillabéri and Dosso regions; also Niamey..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016

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Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.10 %)
0.20 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
99.80 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Zarma (2,500 speakers)
Language Code dje   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Zarma (2,500 speakers)
Language Code dje   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Zarma

Primary Language:  Zarma

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1934)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1954)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1989-1990)
Bible-NT Audio 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
Audio Recordings Oral Bible Stories Story Runners
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Zarma Jesus Film Project
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file Faith Comes by Hearing
Text / Printed Matter Children and youth resources One Hope
Text / Printed Matter Topical Scripture booklets and Bible studies World Missionary Press
Photo Source (Representative photo)
Global Landscapes Forum - Flickr  Creative Commons 
Profile Source Keith Carey  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more