Inland Mission

Pray for the
Sakalava people

The Sakalava live in western and northwest Madagascar. They believe in a remote, Creator God, who was the first ancestor, and that he can be reached through ancestral spirits and human mediums.

Who are the Sakalava?

The Sakalava live in western and northwest Madagascar. They are a small ethnic group, about 6.2% of the population. Related to the Antakarana, they are semi-nomadic agriculturalists and fishermen, but they keep cattle as a sign of wealth and for sacrifices. Sakalava identity focuses on respecting, honouring and working for the living and dead Sakalava royalty. They have a caste system which includes the descendants of royalty, then nobles, commoners and slaves so that everyone knows their position in society.

What do they believe?

They believe in a remote, Creator God, who was the first ancestor. He can be reached through ancestral spirits and human mediums. People seek spirit possession, often amid much drunkenness and sorcery and witchcraft are rampant. Fear is a constant companion: fear of punishment, of displeasing ancestors, of death. Taboos are  observed in almost everything to do with their daily life. Everything is geared towards pleasing the ancestors of the royalty.

What is being done to reach them?

There was a TIMO team to the Sakalava from 2013-2015, during which they saw several people come to Christ. Among these new Christians were ‘The Band’, a Sakalava group of musicians who have been writing Bible songs in the Sakalava dialect. Rosina Ferdinand, the team leader, has continued to work among the Sakalava together with one family from the TIMO team. Four Sakalava couples who are new believers have recieved biblical training to equip them to evangelism among the Sakalava communities. This year, two more families are planning to go out and join this work.

Prayer Resources


If you are organising a prayer meeting or just looking for material to help you pray with more insight for some of Africa’s unreached people, why not download a printable Prayer sheet on the Sakalava of Madagascar.


Latest prayer updates…

Below are some of the latest prayer updates on the Sakalava of Madagascar.

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Related articles:

  • Why bother with outreach and evangelism? - Bezara, a Sakalavan man from Madagascar shares about the impact that outreach and evangelism has had in his life...
  • Summer among the Sakalava - James Loney spent the summer of 2015 serving on a Training in Ministry Outreach (TIMO) Quest among the Sakalava people of Madagascar.
  • Joys and challenges of serving amongst the Sakalava - Elly Schoepp serving as part of the Sakalava Training in Ministry Outreach (TIMO) team with her husband Jed and children James, Elias & Ben shares her reflections on the practicalities of living in a Madagascan village.
  • The Unreached: Bound to the Past - The Sakalava and Antakarana people of Madagascar live in spiritual darkness. Bound to ancestor worship, their communities are controlled by taboos and traditional customs. Yet there is hope in the Gospel. ‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light […]