Black African in Tunisia

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Tunisia, a smallest country in North Africa, boasts beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea to its north and vast expanses of the Sahara Desert in its south. One can view beaches, mountains, rich farmland, and arid desert all in a few hours' drive. Ancient Phoenician, Roman, and Byzantine ruins attract tourists and archaeologists alike.

In the first few centuries after Christ, Christianity spread throughout North Africa. A strong church was established in present-day Tunisia despite intense persecution from the Romans. Ancient baptisteries and sites of martyrdom are among the ruins. However, disunity, factions, and a failure to translate the Bible into the local languages weakened the church. When Arab invaders arrived in the 7th century an empty shell of a church was all that existed. Islam spread rapidly and the Christian roots of the people were forgotten.

The slave trade brought black Africans to the area that is now Tunisia over many centuries until its abolition in 1846. Their descendants have experienced marginalisation in public life and employment. Slavery was replaced by wala’ – a relationship of patronage through which former slaves inherited the surname of their masters and were not allowed to intermarry with Arab Tunisians.

In more recent times, many black Africans have travelled from sub-Saharan Africa and lived in Tunisia while seeking work and study opportunities in Tunisia (especially in medicine and agriculture) or to travel onwards to Europe. The population may be much larger than is officially acknowledged, with most black Tunisian citizens living in the south of the country, and migrants generally living in more urban and coastal areas. The word oussif (slave) is often used to refer to people from any Black African background in Tunisia.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Black Tunisians experience widespread poverty and discrimination in terms of employment and higher education. Very few are in leadership or media roles, but the community is identifiable in everyday life. Some live in isolated areas or are mistaken for migrants from countries south of the Sahara.

Sub-Saharan migrants form a distinct group with their everyday lives influenced by their reasons for arrival. These include work, study or onward migration – and their relative ability to settle into Tunisian society, whether for the long term or short term. They experience racial discrimination, low-paid work, language barriers, lack of documentation, and limited access to education and health care. Laws to prevent racial discrimination are in place and they have made some progress.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Along with Arab Tunisians, the main religion of Black Tunisians is Islam although this has normally been practiced in a secular atmosphere. Religious beliefs among migrants from sub-Sahara vary but include Islam, Christianity and animist beliefs.

What Are Their Needs?

They need better recognition and integration within society accompanied by opportunities to rise from poverty. These Black Africans need an improved quality of life.

Alongside other Tunisians, Black Tunisians have had greater access in recent years to Christian media. There are numerous testimonies about Jesus appearing in dreams and visions although the church is small and scattered with limited opportunities for fellowship and discipleship. This unprecedented access to the gospel has produced a great need for more workers (nationals and foreigners alike) to meet with those who are seeking to know more about Jesus. Making translations of the Bible and other resources in multiple languages more available would help in the discipleship of believers.

Prayer Points

Pray for an end to hardship caused by discrimination and for Black Tunisians to find a respected and recognized place in Tunisia’s society.

Intercede for God’s protection for migrants who cross the Sahara seeking a better life in Tunisia.

Ask God to strengthen, encourage and protect the small number of Tunisian believers.

Pray that Tunisian Christ followers would be impassioned to reach their own people, sharing a clear, succinct, and reproducible gospel presentation.

Ask God to raise up teams of intercessors who will begin to faithfully stand in the gap for Black Tunisians.

Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among Black Tunisians that will seek to rapidly multiply.

Pray that whole families would come to faith in Jesus together.

Pray for clear vision of what a simple, biblical house church network in Tunisia will look like.

Pray for the Tunisian church to become known for strong discipleship and rapid incorporation of new believers.

Pray for strong national leaders to emerge and for these people to plant churches in every city and village in the nation.

Scripture Prayers for the Black African, general in Tunisia.



Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Black African, general
People Name in Country Black African, general
Natural Name Black African
Alternate Names
Population this Country 94,000
Population all Countries 1,137,000
Total Countries 10
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 2
Unreached No
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed
People ID 19213
ROP3 Code 115407
ROP25 Code 301278
ROP25 Name Black African
Country Tunisia
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 33  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Country Tunisia
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 33  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)

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Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 2.00 %)
20.00 %
Ethnic Religions
20.00 %
0.00 %
60.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Language unknown (94,000 speakers)
Language Code xxx   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Unknown
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Language unknown (94,000 speakers)
Language Code xxx   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Language unknown

Primary Language:  Language unknown

Bible Translation Status:  Unspecified

Resource Type Resource Name Source
None reported  
Photo Source Michael Mapes - Pixabay 
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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