• Pre-Entry
  • Pre-Evangelism
  • Evangelism
  • Discipleship
  • Phase-Out
  • Completed

About the People

The Dendi people of Benin are located in the northernmost region of the country, mainly in the lush plains of the Niger River. Some of the Dendi live in the high grass areas, where there is little water and sparse vegetation. Sizable communities can also be found in the nearby countries of Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali. The Dendi are one of approximately 70 ethnic groups in Benin, the least evangelized non-Muslim country south of the Sahara. They trace their origin to the eighth century kingdom of Za. They embraced Islam as early as 1010, but it was mixed with their original beliefs in animism.

Dendi settlements usually consist of round, mud or thatched homes with straw roofs. Today, an increasing number of villagers live in rectangular mud brick houses with corrugated tin roofs. Dendi settlements along the Niger River contain many rice fields and garden plots. Villages farther from the river are surrounded by bush areas and cultivated fields. Cowpeas, groundnuts, and manioc are the usual crops, but millet is grown from June to September during the brief rainy season.

Farming is considered noble labor among the Dendi and is for men only. The women have gardens in which they grow mangoes, guavas, citrus fruits, papayas, dates, and bananas during the hot, dry season. They also cultivate carrots, tomatoes, peppers, cabbages, and various types of squash. Most of the garden work is done by family members. In addition to farming, the Dendi also raise some livestock.

The Dendi are almost entirely Muslim. Even though Islam introduced new elements to the Dendi culture, it left the underlying framework of custom and tradition virtually untouched. Islam is superficially important. Every town has a mosque. Some communities have imams (religious leaders) who teach Islamic philosophy and lead Muslim ceremonies. However, spirit possession, magic, sorcery, ancestor worship and witchcraft remain vital components of Dendi belief.

About the Project

The Republic of Benin, a West African country roughly the size of Pennsylvania, is bordered by Togo, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Niger, and the Atlantic Ocean. Once the seat of the powerful Dahomey kingdom, Benin became a French colony in 1900 and gained independence in 1960, subsequently becoming the first African country to successfully transition from a dictatorship to a pluralistic political system. Benin’s natural resources include oil, marble, limestone,and timber. Industries include textiles, cigarettes, food and beverages, construction materials, and petroleum. However, the economy is chiefly based on agriculture. The tropical climate has two rainy and two dry seasons.

Unfortunately, the Dendi suffer times of drought, and malnutrition is also a problem for many of them. Currently, there are some Christian resources available in the Dendi language. A majority of these precious people have not heard a clear presentation of the Gospel.


Joshua Project—Dendi

People-Group Facts

  • Population: 100,000
  • Language: Dendi
  • Religion: Islam (with indigenous religious undercurrents)

Frontier Stories

Mutarli’s Decision

“I like to learn about other religions,” Mutarli said to Quentin, our student missionary.

By: Michée Badé
May 01 2014, 12:38 pm | Comments 0


Christian is 17 years old. I live above him and his family in the same building, and they have welcomed me into their family circle.

By: Quentin Platt
April 01 2014, 10:31 am | Comments 0

Not Enough Room

Do you remember our April 2013 article titled “Six Inches of Water?”

By: Michée Badé
April 01 2014, 10:25 am | Comments 0


Teaching can be hard, especially when the teacher only partially understands one of the six languages most of his students can speak.

By: Quentin Platt
February 01 2014, 11:44 am | Comments 0


“Good morning sir! Are you the missionary?”

By: Michée Badé
December 01 2013, 11:13 am | Comments 0

Experimental Prayer

She was excited to tell me about her recent experience with prayer.

By: Michée Badé
November 01 2013, 12:07 pm | Comments 1

Supporting Ministry

“Is it true that you left the Adventist Church?” asked our friends.

By: Michée Badé
October 01 2013, 10:24 am | Comments 1

Other People Groups

Though we decided to broaden our efforts last year, we remained cautious about engaging prematurely with non-Dendi people.

By: Michée & Elmire Badé
April 01 2012, 7:05 am | Comments 0


Lateef had his Bible with him and simply read Leviticus 11 aloud. Apparently, the reading of the Bible in front of a group of Muslims by a Muslim-turned-Christian did not sit well with an old man in the group.

By: Michée Badé
March 01 2012, 6:33 am | Comments 1

Africa Retreat

All of us enjoyed the beautiful and refreshing environment under the shade of the many trees in our motel compound by the seashore.

By: Michée & Elmire Badé
January 01 2012, 6:33 am | Comments 0

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