One of Nine Towns

As we take a turn in life, our focus remains the same. Reaching the unreached people groups of Africa. The San are just one of these groups and the Digo are another. There are 1000 unreached people groups in Africa today. What we do seems so small but we serve a BIG God.

Here is some of what we are learning about the Digo people:

The Digo are a Bantu tribe originally from farther north. They are grouped together with eight other tribes to make up the Mijikenda, or “nine towns.” The nine tribes were driven south because of war.

The Digo experienced a time of great famine during the 19th and early 20th century. There was a practice called kore or “blood money” which a person would give themselves or their children as temporary collateral for a loan of food. If the debt could not be paid back, then the person would remain a slave. The slaves were taken to Mombasa and later could become free by converting to Islam.

Three sources of income for the Digo have been trade with Muslim Arabs, farming and fishing. This has resulted in a higher standard of living and Islam becoming more widely accepted then in the other eight tribes. Most of the Digo people over forty years of age have no real understanding of the Koran. Only a few of them have studied Islam in any depth, and most of them have only a superficial knowledge of its principles and doctrines. Islam though has altered both religious and political structures. The Digo have adopted new attire and diet. The Digo women have no religious significance for wearing the black veil but wear it to show respect for their husbands. This identification with the Muslim religion is referred to as “folk Islam.” Traditional practices of animism and ancestor worship still influence the Digo people. Animism is the belief that non-human objects have spirits and ancestor worship is praying to deceased ancestors for help and guidance. They still use blood sacrifices for exorcism of evil spirits and consult with witchdoctors regularly.

Kenya is predominantly a Christian country. Yet, the Digo have never been successfully reached with the Gospel. Their religious practices are deeply rooted in spiritism and folk Islam. This makes reaching them a very difficult task. They do have the entire New Testament in Chidigo, the language of the Digo people, but they need a literacy program to put it to use. The Jesus film is also in Chidigo.

Pray that the Digo will become dissatisfied with their religious practices; that the Digo hearts to be soften to the Truth; that the Kenyan church is empowered by God to reach out to the Digo people; and that God would raise up pastors among the Digo people to lead the people in the Word of God in their own language.

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