Lahawin in Sudan

Send Joshua Project a photo
of this people group.
Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Lahawin
Country: Sudan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 230,000
World Population: 230,000
Primary Language: Arabic, Sudanese
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Arab, Sudan
Affinity Bloc: Arab World
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Lawawin are one of the The Shuwa Arab groups, better known as the "Baggara." This name is derived from the Arabic word bagar, meaning "cow," and refers to the Arab tribes in West Africa who are cattle herders. They are spread from the Lake Chad region eastward to the Nile River in the countries of Sudan, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, and the Central African Republic. They live in a hot, semi-arid climate with zones ranging from sparse shrub lands to wooded grasslands.
The Baggara tribes are of Arab descent and mainly speak the Shuwa dialect of the Arabic language. They entered western Sudan between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and have gradually moved east and west from there. By the eighteenth century, they were concentrated primarily to the north and east of Lake Chad. Their tribes continued moving eastward until they became widely scattered across the horizontal plains of West Africa. They have intermarried with the African tribes who lived close to them. For this reason, they have physical characteristics of both Arabs and sub-Saharan Africans.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Unlike their Arab neighbors farther north, the Lawawin in Sudan are unable to raise camels because of the thicker vegetation and more humid climate. Most of the Shuwa Arab tribes are nomadic. Each year, they move their herds south to the river lands during the dry season, and north to the grasslands during the rainy season. Before changing locations, they usually plant sorghum, sesame, millet, and beans in their fields, harvesting the crops on their return. The Shuwa Arab depend entirely on their animals for survival. The people feed on milk and cheese during the winter. They use animal fat and dung as healing ointments. They use the skins to make clothing and tents. Even the bones are used to make ornaments and weapons. Although most Shuwa Arab tribes are nomadic, there are a few that live in farming communities or towns.
The roles of the Shuwa Arab men and women are very distinct. The women are responsible for milking the cows. They sell the raw milk to factories, and processed milk either at the marketplace or door to door. They keep the earnings for themselves or use it to pay household expenses. The women also build the houses, tend to the children, go for water, prepare the daily meals, and trade in the marketplace.
The men are primarily involved with caring for the herds. They also plant and harvest the crops. Although the mother is the primary caretaker of the children, the father may also show them some affection, or discipline them from time to time. Since the women are capable of adequately maintaining the household, the men will sometimes leave for one or two years at a time to work in other countries.
The nomadic Shuwa Arabs live in camp units called furgan. Members of the furgan generally belong to one or more family line.  Their homes are simple dome-shaped tents built by the women. They are portable structures that can easily be packed and moved along with the herds.
When preparing to set up a new camp, they first build the bed for the woman and small children then the tent is put up around it. The tents are built by placing saplings into holes in the ground, then bending them over and tying them at the top. They tie smaller branches into the frame, and cover it all with thatch or grass mats. The tents are arranged in a circle, and the cattle are brought inside the circle at night for protection.
Married women own the tents and their housekeeping contents. The men build a "sun shelter" either inside or just outside of the camp. They gather there to eat, talk, nap or entertain their friends.
Shuwa Arab marriages are often polygamous. If a man has two wives, one of them may live in a pastoral camp, while the other lives in a farming village. They exchange products and labor between the two households, adding to the family's income and making it more flexible.
Shuwa Arab people prefer cross cousin marriages. The future husband and his near relatives save up money for a bride price. Part of this money is used to purchase household items, while some of it is used to buy food for the marriage celebration that takes place in the bride's camp. After the wedding, the newlyweds live near the bride's parents. Later, they move to a place chosen by the husband. On this occasion, the groom's family provides another feast.
Shuwa Arab society is patrilineal, which means that the line of descent is traced through the males. Traditionally each camp is headed by a male leader called shaykh. Although this position is generally inherited, all of the adult male members of a camp must agree on the man who is to fill the position. The shaykh does not rule the camp, but rather acts as the spokesperson for the decision-making males of the camp. However, he may also have a considerable amount of influence, depending on his wisdom and economic status.
Almost any occasion-the arrival of a visitor, unexpected good fortune or someone returning from a trip-is an excuse for a communal feast. Betrothal, marriage, and moving the newlyweds to their new residence calls for a major celebration. It also offers the young people an opportunity for courting. The death of a close relative requires a forty-day mourning period, which is followed by a feast.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Shuwa Arab have been Muslims since the thirteenth century. They wear the clothes prescribed by the Muslim religion, and bury their dead facing Mecca, the "holy city" of Islam. They also strongly believe in evil spirits that they think control their daily lives.

What Are Their Needs?

Some of these tribes have been ministered to by mission agencies. Because the Lawawin are so devoted to the Islamic religion, very few are willing to listen to someone who wants to tell them about the abundant life offered by Jesus. Their nomadic lifestyle makes it very difficult for missionaries to reach them.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the Lawawin people and they will respond with gratitude and faith.
Pray for the Lord to send dreams and visions to Lawawin leaders so they will open the door for Jesus to enter the hearts of their people.
Pray for the Lord to send out Holy Spirit anointed workers to the Lawawin in Sudan.
Pray for a Disciple Making Movement among the Lawawin this decade.

Text Source:   Joshua Project