Dong in Nigeria

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Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Dong
Country: Nigeria
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 10,000
World Population: 10,000
Primary Language: Dong
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 5.00 %
Evangelicals: 3.00 %
Scripture: Translation Started
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Benue
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Hundreds of years ago, the Dong, included in the larger Chamba people group, migrated from the Middle East and traveled through Chad and Borno state to the Benue Valley of Nigeria. They were driven away and eventually settled in Yeli in Cameroon. In the early nineteenth century, the Dong lived in harmony with the Fulani and often intermarried with them. A few decades later, however, the Fulani suddenly attacked them, killing their chiefs and forcing them to flee from their settlements in Cameroon into what is now Nigeria. The Dong eventually settled in their present locations in the Binyer district of Nigeria's Adamawa state. Some also live in and around Donga in Taraba state. Their area of habitation is watered by many rivers, making the soil very fertile for farming. Although there are mountains throughout the area, the people are concentrated in the plains, engaging in subsistence agriculture.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Dong are divided into clans or kindreds. Each kindred has a leader or head, who is chosen not for seniority, wealth, or power, but for knowledge of traditional customs and religious rites. This leader is responsible to the chief for the members of the kindred that he leads. When a Dong youth is near fifteen years of age, he is circumcised, along with other boys from the same age group. The boys remain camped outside the village in the bush for two months following the circumcision, where they are taken care of by the priest until they are healed. During this time, the boys are taught different crafts and are trained for war and how to survive in difficult times. At this time they have initiation rites for their ancestral cult. When the boys are healed, they return to the village, where they hold a festival celebrating their circumcision and entry into manhood. At this time, they begin the process of selecting a wife for these young men. A girl and her paternal aunt decide which proposal of marriage the girl will accept. When they chose a young man, he will bring many gifts to the girl and her family and will work with his friends in the girl's parents' farm until the couple consummates the marriage. The girl's aunt collects the bride-price and sets the wedding date. She is also responsible for the naming of her niece's children. The paternal aunt is given much respect, as she is believed to have the power to bless or curse. The Dong are an agricultural people, growing guinea corn, millet and a variety of vegetables. Each October, when the grain on the stalks of the guinea corn crop first begins to show, they celebrate the Purma Festival. This is a large, important festival to which the Dong invite some of the people from neighboring tribes. Instead of reflecting an agricultural significance, this festival is more of a traditional, warlike event. The warriors of the Dong are given a royal review by the head chief of the tribe. This festival involves much beer drinking, music, and dancing, along with mock battles.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Many of the Dong have become Muslim, due to Fulani influence; however, many still practice their traditional ethnic religious beliefs and practices. The Dong view God as though he were far away, and they believe that they can reach him only through the gods and through the spirits of their ancestors. They can best be described as adhering to traditional religion. Each god is worshipped through its own cult. The strongest of these occult powers is the vera god to whom the Dong sacrifice when things go wrong with a family member. There is also a woman's cult. They believe this cult prevents war and epidemics and protects the chief on his journeys. The voma cult is the rain cult. When there is a shortage of rainfall, they blow a flute-like instrument called a voma to summon rain.

What Are Their Needs?

The Dong people need the chance to put their faith and trust in the Lord of lords who provides for all their needs. Who will go to them?

Prayer Points

Pray that the Lord will show himself powerful by providing abundant rain and an excellent harvest for the Dong people. Pray for new Dong believers to put all their trust in the King of kings, not "hedging their bets" by worshipping other gods as well. Pray for a massive, unstoppable movement to Christ among the Dong people of Nigeria. Pray for Dong leaders to welcome Christ's ambassadors into their communities.

Text Source:   Joshua Project