Dendi

  • 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.

Resources

Joshua Project—Dendi

People-Group Facts

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

Frontier Stories

Mr. Riaoub

After the inauguration of our Faith Dialogue Center (FDC) in July, we began to meet as a group three times a day at the center to pray—at 6 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

By: Michée & Elmire Badé
December 01 2011, 10:38 am | Comments 0

Mentoring the Harral Family

For the Harral family’s first weeks in Benin, I was privileged to serve as their guide and mentor.

By: Michée & Elmire Badé
November 01 2011, 10:37 am | Comments 0

Great Events

One Muslim leader expressed his hope that our center would break down prejudices that divide Muslims and Christians.

By: Michée & Elmire Badé
October 01 2011, 10:35 am | Comments 0

My Marabout Friend

My friend Diallo is a marabout—a fortune teller and witchdoctor.

By: Michée & Elmire Badé
September 01 2011, 10:34 am | Comments 0

Faith Dialog Meeting (Part 2)

I remember back in late 2007 when many imams were very bitter and spoke aggressively against us, calling us enemies of Islam and labeling our landlord, language helpers and friends traitors. Now, nearly four years later, some of the radical preachers are still bitter about us, but the content of their public messages is changing.

By: Michée & Elmire Badé
August 01 2011, 10:32 am | Comments 1

First Meeting with Muslims

Today we are gathered in front of someone who is not of our religion! Is this not a trap? 

By: Michée & Elmire Badé
July 01 2011, 10:30 am | Comments 0

The Old Truck

Since the beginning of 2011, there has been no week we haven’t visited our mechanic.

By: Michée & Elmire Badé
May 01 2011, 10:29 am | Comments 0

Center for Faith Dialogue and Research

On January 31, we began construction of our Center for Faith Dialogue and Research. We would prefer to call it our Adventist Muslim Relations Center, but the prejudices of local Muslims and even Christians would be aroused.

By: Michée & Elmire Badé
April 01 2011, 10:28 am | Comments 0

Benin Campmeeting

From December 22 to 26, I attended the Benin Mission’s first national camp meeting at Abomey, an ancient city with a rich history.

By: Michée & Elmire Badé
March 01 2011, 10:23 am | Comments 0

Delivered From Demons

“I was tired of being responsible for so much evil around me,” said 17-year-old Ornelia. “Close friends and relatives suffered severe illnesses and serious accidents because they prayed for my deliverance.”

By: Michée & Elmire Badé
February 01 2011, 10:21 am | Comments 0

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