RESEARCH REPORT OF
ON-SITE EVALUATION OF THE
ANYI OF IVORY COAST
There is a need for a team of missionaries among the 500,000 Anyi people of Cote d'Ivoire. Initial work has begun, yet they are still far less than four percent Protestant and the majority are followers of their traditional religion.
This is an update of the report "Prospectus: The Northern Anyi of Ivory Coast" written by Philip Palmer in October 1987. It will not only center on changes that have taken place, but also add some important information.
Francophone (French speaking) West Africa is one of the most neglected areas in the world. Very few missions have worked among these people. Africa has been very receptive to the gospel. There are more members of the Churches of Christ/Christian Church in Africa than any place outside the United States. That growth has taken place in basically only seven countries. None of them are in Francophone West Africa. In fact very little work has been done there. Presently, only nineteen of the two hundred and twenty-seven missionaries are serving in that part of the word (Africa Mission Resource Center WWW page). That is up by more than 300 percent in the past two years with the settling in of the Fon team in Benin and the Ouachi team in Togo.
The Anyi are one of the larger Kwa groups in Ivory Coast. The Kwa speaking people groups are a major presence in the Francophone region. The Anyi are closely related to the majority Baule speaking people of Ivory Coast ( their linguistic tree is Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kwa, Nyo, Potou-Tano, Tano). The Baule are ten percent Protestant. The Anyi are one of three ethnic groups (also the Guere and Yakouba) in the area and the city of Abidjan which have been determined to be good places for church planting teams to lactate in Cote d'Ivoire.
According to the book, Ethnologue, the Anyi number 487,900 in Cote d'Ivoire (1991), 10,000 to 100,000 of which are second language, and 122,800 in Ghana (1991). That is a total Anyi population of 610,700 (Ethnologue WWW page). The population is dense around the major cities, but only moderately so outside a five mile radius of the cities. The cities are of mixed ethnic makeup. Boule are a major portion of the population. In the rural areas, outlined on the map of the cover page, almost all people are Anyi.
Country Religious Background
Traditional religions/other 30.3%. Traditional religions are generally stronger in the center and west, many tribes are still predominantly animist. Muslim 38.7%. Islam is strong in the northwest and in Abidjan. The makeup is: Africans Sunni, Lebanese Shi'a. Christian 31%.
Abengourou is a large town seated in a valley with tall green hills around it. It is a quiet town even though it has supplies and housing more plentiful than most areas in rural West Africa. The Islamic influence is evident with a large mosque in the center of town and several others in the outlying cartiers. A Catholic church is the only other large church building in the center. There are dozens of shops with dry goods, groceries, hardware and clothing. A great many restaurants (African and a couple European). There are more than one hundred taxies in town. There are five missionaries in Abengourou and there is another one on the way. Two Baptists have been there for just a couple of months and one is a dentist. There are two Christian Church missionaries (Lou Cass and Milton Clark) and another family on the way. These missionaries are not involved in direct evangelism but leadership training and medical missions.
Once again it was found that there are distinct sub-ethnic groups among the Anyi in both the north and south.
The Anyi, according to Larry Vanderaa, have four missionaries working and living in their area. That number has now increased to twelve counting husbands and wives. At least two more are on their way. There are fifteen thousand Christians in four denominations: Free Will Baptists, Christian Missionary Fellowship, Christian and Missionary Alliance, and United Methodist. SIL documents that 70 percent of the Anyi are followers of African Traditional Religion (ATR). Ten percent are Muslim most of which live in Urban centers. The twenty percent Christians are primarily syncretistic Catholics and Harrists. A little more than 3 percent of the population would claim to be Protestants.
The Catholic church is the largest of any Christian organization yet it is seen as supremely syncretistic by all the Protestant churches. They are evident in many villages as well. Yet, even they are in the minority.
The Harrist movement is larger in southern Anyi than Palmer reported among northern regions of the ethnic group.
Seventh Day Adventists
The national preacher at the Seventh Day Adventist church in Abengourou told us that his town congregation was at twenty presently, but that was less than it was several years ago. Syncretism is rampant. This is not confined to the Catholics but various Christian and Muslim groups are comfortable with such divided allegiance.
There is a good sized Pentecostal church in Covet cartier of Abengourou. They are also in a few villages.
A family moved to Abengourou in 1994. They are working with national leadership. They will also send another couple soon.
The Methodists are said to be the most numerous of Protestant groups in the rural areas.
The Southern Baptists arrived in June of 1995. One is a dentist and the other has planted a congregation at Apoporoum. They have a center and dental clinic at Cafetu. The Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB) are strongest in the northeast of Abengourou.
The Christian Church's early work was in Abidjan among some Ghanaian preachers from an African independent church. We stumbled onto two families from the Christian Church in Abengourou. They have been working there since 1989. The Christian Church missionaries have been in Abengourou longer than any of the other resident missionaries. They have eight congregations in which many of the members are not Anyi. They are fluent in only French.
The missionaries view themselves as assisting and training the nationals. They are not primarily involved in evangelism. Several of the churches were started by Ghanians before the missionaries arrived in Abengourou.
They are very open to other missionaries and missions coming, particularly ourselves. They do feel the need to have someone come and learn the Anyi language.
The Bible is about to be published in Anyi. The main SIL translator is Jonathan Burmister.
There are several mosques in Abengourou and other towns. Very few of the members are Anyi. The members are workers from the more Islamic ethnic groups of the country.
Phil Palmer and Mark Barryman used good gauges of receptivity for the study in 1987. Since that time two instruments have been developed which help us understand openness and responsiveness to the gospel among African peoples. Carley Dodd created the "Receptivity Scale RS-9" using primarily observable factors of village systems, innovativeness, mass communication and attitude toward religious change as factors to gauge receptivity. Richard Chowning has developed "A Scale to Measure Worldview Dissonance" taking into account the communal solidarity, displeasure by spirits and social dissonance as indicators of receptivity. Both instruments were used during the 1995 on-site study. Receptivity was reported has "high but not dramatic" in Phil Palmer's study.
There seem to be many houses that could be rented. Some people even offered to move out of their houses. Electricity, water and phones are available in all areas of town. The rent for a three-bedroom house will be between $150 and $200 per month. There is ample food of all varieties of meat (including inexpensive fish), fruits and vegetables. The fish come from Abidjan.
There are two towns which would be easy to live in, and promote a good working environment. It is moderate in temperature and supplies are available as well as diversions. However, it is the possibility of great church growth that ought to excite the mission candidates. Ivory Coast is a rich country, both economically and in potential growth in the kingdom of God.