Who are the Zande?
Variant spellings of this people group include Azande, Zandeh, A-Zandeh and Sandeh. The Zande live in an area approximately 800 kilometers long by 400 kilometers wide spread over three countries, namely South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic. Their territory extends from the fringes of the Upper Nile basin in South Sudan to the semitropical rain forests in Congo and into the Central African Republic. The word ‘Zande’ means the people who possess much land, and refers to their history as conquering warriors. Now, the Zande are mainly small-scale farmers.
What do they believe?
A church has been established in the Zande area for many years. Despite this, however, many Zande continue to follow a complex witchcraft system. Fetishes and charms are still displayed and worn secretly, even by professing Christians. At meetings of Zande church leaders from the three countries in 2007, ordained pastors confessed to using oracles and drinking potions prepared by specialists for protection or healing.
What is being done to reach them?
The Episcopal Church of Sudan began its work among the Zande in 1899, with AIM missionaries arriving in 1913. Since then, we have seen numerical growth of the church. This growth, however, has not been matched by numbers of mature believers. The hope is that the Zande disciples will reach out to their neighbours, the Mbororo.