THE DYERMA (SONGHAI-ZERMA) OF NIGER
25% ATR, 75% Muslim, 175 Protestants in 3 churches
Only Evangelical Baptists are active among the Dyerma. In Niamey they have 2 couples and 3 single who work as church planters and 1 single who operates a Christian bookstore. In Dosso, they have 1 couple who are church planters.
Other groups active in Niamey, though not concentrating on the Dyerma include Catholics (15,700 and falling), SIM, Southern Baptist, Horizons, YWAM, Assemblies of God (just beginning).
"There are several Christian missions in the Songhai and Arewa areas. Christianity is primarily a European religion, although it is practiced by some black Africans from other countries. The traditional animist religions of the black Africans continue to manifest themselves in strength" (EB, 852).
25-65 persons/sq. mile (EB)
Language and Ethnicity
"Songhai is the second most important language [in Niger, next to Hausa]; it is also spoken in Mali, in northern Burkina Faso, and in northern Benin. In Niger itself it is divided into various dialects, such as Songhai proper, Zerma, and Dendi" (EB, 851).
"By using Hausa and Songhai, one may make oneself understood from one end of the country to the other. French, however, remains the official language, as well as the language of instruction, although it remains understood by only a small minority. English is taught as the principal foreign language in secondary schools" (EB, 852).
"The Songhai-Zerma are found in the southwest, the Songhai proper live along the Niger, where they are assimilating the Kurtey and Wogo peoples. . . . the Zerma (Djerma) live on the left bank of the Niger, remaining in close contact with the Mausi and Arewa peoples" (EB, 852).
"Sedentary peoples, such as the Hausa, the Songhai-Zerma, and the Kanuri, who inhabit the Niger and Chad basins, live largely by agriculture. They raise millet, rice, corn, peanuts (groundnuts) and cotton. They also work as blacksmiths, and shoemak ers" (EB, 851).
CRWM=Larry Verderaa, "A Survey of for Christian and Reformed World Missions of Missions and Churches in West Africa," May 1991.