Benkonjo in Central African Republic

Map Source:  Anonymous
People Name: Benkonjo
Country: Central African Republic
10/40 Window: No
Population: 3,300
World Population: 3,300
Primary Language: Ukhwejo
Primary Religion: Christianity
Christian Adherents: 77.00 %
Evangelicals: 22.10 %
Scripture: Translation Needed
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Bantu, Northwest
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

UKWEJO means "hard" or "iron" in the Ukhwejo language which is spoken by the Benkonjo people group of the Central African Republic. The call themselves Mboungondjo, and they are actually a fusion of five tribes: the Mikororos, Yakokis-Djaro, Peleng, Kanang and Long-et-Long. They are governed by traditional chiefs.

Where Are they Located?

For the past 100 years the Benkonjo people have lived in the Nguoulo village in the town of Nola. Their original village was Wangoh, but because of the railroad constructed by settlers they had to move to Ngoulo. There are about 2850 Benkonjo living there now, although Benkonjo have moved to Cameroon and the Republic of Congo due to insecurity of the area. They are a solitary people who prefer to live on the margins of other peoples' land and villages.

What Are Their Lives Like?

According to a legend of the Benkonjo there was a tribal war between themselves and another people. The war was intense and the Benkonjo wanted to flee across a deep river. As there was no bridge, one of the Long-et-Long people (which means "twins" or "snake") turned into a bridge allowing all of the people to cross the river to safety. To this day their main activities are fishing and farming.

The majority of Benkonjo people mainly communicate in their own Ukhwejo Language. However many will use Sango as a language of exchange and integration into the surrounding society.

The Benkonjo consider anyone who does not speak their language to be a foreigner so it would be best for them to be reached by a native speaker. A government agency tried to plant a church but was not successful because the temporary workers who started the church have been transferred out of the area. It would be best for the few native believers to lead their own church. There is a need for discipleship.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Most of he Benkonjo practice animism, worshiping two spirits called Mololo and Soh. 85% of the people are illiterate and there is no government effort to establish schools for them. There is no scripture in the Ukhwejo language.

When work began among the Benkonjo there were only 3 believers to be found. Over a year's time that number grew to 221 believers.

There is no Christian congregation which meets in a church building, but there are now 13 house churches among the Benkonjo.

Text Source:   Anonymous