Sha in Nigeria

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People Name: Sha
Country: Nigeria
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 6,200
World Population: 6,200
Primary Language: Sya
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 30.00 %
Evangelicals: 3.00 %
Scripture: Translation Started
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Chadic
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Sha people say that they came from different places with different languages such as Nasarawa, Bauchi, and a place called Mupun near Pankshin LGA. From this diverse cultural background, they unified, choosing the name Sya [s?à] which means ‘unity’ and ‘togetherness’. Sya is spoken in ten villages, the largest of which is Sha.

The Sha are located in Sha district of Bokkos Local Government Area, Plateau State, Nigeria. They settled in ten villages in the district: Sha (the main village), Tasha, Tagon, Takau, Bakel, Tawusya, Mistakuku, Afazoh, Aryau, and Abutura, where they speak the Sya language. This area where Sya is spoken is located at about 4,100 ft. above sea level on the western edge of the Jos Plateau. The Sha district is not as hilly or isolated as that of their neighbors the Duhwa and Mindat.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Sha have a good relationship with nearby villages, probably because their languages belong to the same language family.

The Sha are mainly farmers, though some people also hunt animals for food. They cultivate fonio, sweet potatoes, benniseed, beans, and possibly maize, carrots and Irish potatoes. There is a market in Sha that is available to all of the surrounding villages, though some will travel to the larger market in Daffo. Their means of transportation are motorcycles and motor vehicles. Although Sha is the district headquarters, about six hundred people have left to find work elsewhere. There is only one medical clinic providing health care to all ten villages.

There are primary schools in five of the ten Sha communities and a secondary school in Sha. About 350 (95%) Sya children were reported to attend the primary schools. Nearly the same percentage was reported for villages without schools. One teacher said that there are a few Duhwa and Mindat children attending the school in Sha as well. Most Sha children stop their education after the primary level.

All age groups speak Sha, their native language, and all but the elderly understand Hausa. These two languages are used for most community activities. Youths and children also understand English.

Literature that is available in the Sha community is written in either Hausa or English. This includes Bibles, novels, magazines and textbooks used by students. Cell service is available in some villages, and some people have cell phones.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Sha celebrate a festival called Fat’thi-Sya at Tasha village. They display cultural activities which includes the Ngelleli Kwalal dance moves. They prepare Bhibal, made with fonio and beniseed. The males wear Kukut (a skin of a lion or cheetah) around the waist. Bo’n (a skin of a goat or sheep) used on the shoulder like that of a warrior. The females wear the dom and Kurson made with the bark of a tree, and Matek made from an animal skin. The title of their chief is ‘Ada’. They perform dramas called Mangam, Aja, Harkil, and Andon.

The Sha are now 99% Christians but only seven of the villages have churches. They do not have the Bible in their language, so they use a Hausa or English translation. The growth of the church is stable because most people are born into Christianity. There are five denominations: Church of Christ in Nation (COCIN), Catholic, Living Faith Church, The Lord’s Chosen and Christ Apostolic Church (CAC). A few Muslim families (less than 1% of the population) are reportedly living in these communities and they probably have the Koran in Arabic.

What Are Their Needs?

The Sha need health clinics, Christ loving spiritual leaders, church planters and the Bible in their language. They need local work, so that people do not have to leave the area in order to sustain themselves.

Prayer Points

Pray for economic stability so that people do not have to leave the village and community to find work.
Pray against the hate and physical violence which threatens peaceful coexistence.
Pray that the light of Christ will be bright in the believers and spark a movement among them toward deeper relationships with Jesus Christ.
Pray for a spiritual hunger in the Sha people for Jesus Christ, who offers life to the fullest.
Pray against lies which muddy the living water and cloud the truth.
Pray against spiritual and physical attacks of the accuser.
Pray they can stand strong against the deceptions of this world.

Text Source:   Joshua Project