The descendants of Arabs in the African desert
Early in the morning, coffee beans are roasted on a small open fire in a metal tin. Women roll up the sides of their tents to let in the light of a new day. Boys follow their fathers as they herd camels and sheep. Little girls run barefoot half a kilometre to visit cousins. The sand is kicked up by wind and scorpions hide under the cool carpets set down on the desert floor. It is another slow, simple day in the desert.
The 100,000 people of Rashaida tribe of Northeastern Sudan are a Bedouin group that originated in Saudi Arabia. They fled to the region around 150 years ago. The language of this tribe is Arabic and their religion is Islam. The car of choice is a 4×4 Toyota pick-up from the 1980’s that boys learn to drive when they are around 12 years old. The marrying age for girls is 14-17 years. This generation is the first to be educated. Many Rashaida, especially women, above the age of 30 are illiterate. Their Bedouin heritage is one of orally passing down their history, religion, and remembering the ancestry of their camels.
There are many social classes among the Rashaida tribe. Most are businessmen who trade goods. In general, the people are not poor, but rather choose to live a simple lifestyle. Their homes are usually small huts or tents that are convenient for their nomadic lifestyle. They invest their money more in gold and camels. The Rashaida run smuggling operations over the border of Eritrea into Sudan, creating tension between them and the local government as they avoid paying taxes. However, they easily escape authorities by turning off their headlights and speeding through the desert as they follow the stars. A man from this tribe can tell his location by the smell of the sand.
This people group has purposefully isolated itself. They seldom interact with other nearby Bedouins or the local Sudanese. The Rashaida are pure Arabs and have not intermarried, claiming to have a direct bloodline back to the prophet Muhammad. There are a few believers in their region from Ethiopian descent. Some Rashaida on the Eritrean coast joined the military some years back and were exposed to Christ by other soldiers. Other than this, their culture and belief system has never been challenged.
They are an unreached, unengaged tribe.
- Pray Isaiah 45:2-3 over the Rashaida. Pray for efforts to reach the Rashaida. May God down the ‘iron bars’ (all the barriers) keeping the Rashaida from knowing the Gospel. Pray for Jesus to become their treasure, when he is fully revealed he is hard to resist.
- Ask God to send sacrificial workers who are willing to build relationships with this nomadic people group.
- Ask God to empower the few Rashaida believers to be peacemakers with hostile neighbours in this war-torn region.
Listen to the Podcast – DAY 25 – The Rashaida of Sudan