Who are the Bara?
The Bara live in small village communities of 50 to 300 people, scattered across the grasslands of south-central Madagascar, not very accessible by road. Much of their lifestyle revolves around the care of their cattle and their rice fields, however changes are taking place due to the discovery of sapphires in their area. Many other tribal groups have come to dig for gemstones. The traditional Bara authority structure gives power and respect to the Lonaky, a family and community leader responsible for the spiritual and material well-being of the village.
What do they believe?
The Bara believe in Zanahary, the Creator, who is a high and distant figure, and they also fear and worship ancestors – the living dead who can exert influence for good and ill on those still alive. They have a complex system of customs, rituals, taboos and practices which play a key role in their animistic worldview. Much emphasis is given to death and dying, and elaborate rituals have traditionally accompanied burials.
What is being done to reach them?
There are portions of the Bible in the Bara language, and work continues on translation. An AIM team lived in Betroka among the Bara for a few years from 2013. During that time they saw some of the Bara commit their lives to Christ. Though the team has ended, there are still some missionaries living and working among the Bara. They are looking for more team members to work with them, to share the gospel and to encourage the local church in evangelism.