Alagwa in Tanzania

Map Source:  People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Alagwa
Country: Tanzania
10/40 Window: No
Population: 60,000
World Population: 60,000
Primary Language: Alagwa
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.02 %
Evangelicals: 0.02 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Sub-Saharan African, other
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Alagwa believe they are descendants of Habesh, a son of the 10th generation of Ham. Many believe they are still living out Noah's curse to his second son. Tradition also tells of their travels to the city of Mecca. The Alagwa retell the story about being rejected by the people of Mecca because they had no religion. They were not yet Muslim and still worshipped in the way of their ancestors. Perhaps this is why they later embraced Islam so wholeheartedly that today the great majority of the people follow the teachings of Mohammed. The Alagwa live in the north central region of Tanzania. They predominantly occupy 15 villages in a rocky hill region that ranges in elevation between 4,000 and 6,000 feet.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Alagwa are farmers. Their principal crops are maize and millet. They work cooperatively to cultivate large fields, raise livestock, build houses and roads, and dig wells. Though the Bubu River runs through the middle of lower lands, the higher regions suffer greatly from lack of water. Their annual rainfall is only 500 to 800 millimeters. Consequently, much of their time is spent either digging wells or walking miles each day to retrieve enough water for the needs of their families. They are a very reserved people, slow to receive outsiders. Some of their reserved behavior is evident in the way they build and care for their homes. Their houses are built of fired brick with distinctive grass roofs that peak high above the entry. The homes are often surrounded by high and sturdy fences made of grass, reeds or sticks. These fences and the area around as well as within are kept swept and clean of any debris. Each home has a neat, well-tended appearance. Their quiet reserve also extends to their religious lives. Christian missionaries, whether expatriates or Tanzanian, had historically left in discouragement from lack of spiritual response. Yet a group of missionary families moved there and were able to see success in producing Scripture resources. To see a full harvest, the Lord will need to send out faithful long-term workers.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Alagwa people are Sunni Muslims who believe that the Supreme God, Allah, spoke through his prophet, Mohammed, and taught mankind how to live a righteous life through the Koran and the Hadith. To live a righteous life, you must utter the Shahada (a statement of faith), pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, slandering, and making idols. They gather for corporate prayer on Friday afternoons at a mosque, their place of worship. 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. Sunni religious practices are staid and simple. They believe that Allah has pre-determined our fates; they minimize free will. In most of the Muslim world, people depend on the spirit world for their daily needs since they regard Allah as too distant. Allah may determine their eternal salvation, but the spirits determine how well we live in our daily lives. For that reason, they must appease the spirits. They often use charms and amulets to help them with spiritual forces.

What Are Their Needs?

The Alagwa people faithful workers who will stick with them until they have a movement to Christ.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to thrust out workers to the Alagwa people. Pray that the Alagwa people will have a spiritual hunger that will open their hearts to the King of kings. Pray for workers who are driven by the love and boldness of the Holy Spirit to go to them. Pray for a movement to Christ among them to begin this decade.

Text Source:   Joshua Project