The Buduma live on scores of islands located within Lake Chad. This historically large, shallow lake is located where Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Niger meet. Although the shores of Lake Chad have long been inhabited by populations of mixed origin, the Buduma have managed to preserve their identity and homeland. They have resisted outside influences throughout history, remaining a fiercely independent people who, even today, are ruled by their own chiefs.
In the past, the Buduma carried out violent raids on the cattle herds of their neighbors. They were feared villains with aggressive reputations; thus, they were respected and left alone for many years, protected by their own habitat of water and reeds. Today, they are a peaceful and friendly people willing to adopt some modern changes. Although their neighbors call them Buduma, meaning “people of the grass (or reeds)”, they prefer to be called Yedina. Their language is known as Buduma.
What are their lives like?
Most Buduma are cattle herders or fishermen. They live on the more stable islands of Lake Chad in permanent villages. These scattered villages are enclosed by reed fences. Buduma weave their huts from papyrus reeds, so that the huts can be easily lifted and moved to higher ground when the lake rises. The village life and economy of the Buduma center on their cattle and, to a much lesser extent, on their crops of wheat and millet. Buduma cattle have distinct horns which are especially long. The horns help the cattle to swim when they lean their heads back in the water. Buduma do not use their cattle for meat, but for milk and sacrifices only.
During the dry season, all able-bodied Buduma move to the floating islands to establish temporary camps. These islands are really floating rafts of matted vegetation, sometimes drifting and sometimes anchored by roots.
Throughout the dry season, Buduma depend on fishing for their livelihood. They are well-known for their distinctive papyrus reed boats. Buduma use the smaller of these crafts for fishing and the larger ones for transporting cattle or for prolonged family accommodation. Although the Buduma formerly fished only for their own consumption, they now also fish commercially, transporting dried fish to Nigerian markets for trade. This new pattern of commerce has enabled the Buduma to purchase material goods they have been unable to produce themselves.
Unlike the diet of any other people in Africa, the Buduma diet is based on cow’s milk and fish, with only a few cereal products. The people also collect water lily roots and grind them into flour, providing a supplement to their diet. The Buduma have remarkable physiques due to the high amounts of protein they eat daily. Consequently, Buduma are powerful swimmers, able to stay under water for long periods of time.
Buduma teach their children from an early age to swim, manage boats, to help with the nets and to fish. By age 15, boys are circumcised, marking their maturity into manhood. Men do not marry until their late twenties, usually marrying women substantially younger than they.
Buduma are fiercely ethnocentric, placing a high value on preserving their distinct culture. Thus, they believe strongly in marrying within their own people group. Some Buduma men may intermarry with neighboring Kanembu women, but the men never take their wives back to their island homes. A Buduma woman will never marry a “mainland” man.
What are their beliefs?
The Buduma are mostly traditional ethnic in their religion. They also believe in the god Kumani, founder of the world, and put faith in priests who they believe will appease the spirits.
What are their needs?
The Buduma have few Christian resources available to them, and most of them have never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel. Continued prayer is the key to reaching these isolated, independent people with the love of Christ.
* Pray that God will use the Buduma believers to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are working with the Buduma.
* Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Buduma through dreams and visions.
* Pray that Christian resources will be made available to the Buduma.
* Ask God to raise prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Buduma church for the glory of His name!
* Pray for translation of the Bible to begin in this people group’s primary language.
* Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.
Text source: Bethany World Prayer Center © 1999.