Dendi people

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Total population
195,633 people
Regions with significant populations
Benin and Nigeria (4,505 people)
Related ethnic groups

The Dendi are an ethnic group located in northern Benin and Nigeria, mainly in the plains of the Niger River.[1] They are part of the Songhai people. The community consists of 195,633 people. Among them, only 4,505 live in Nigeria. Their mother tongue is the Dendi.[2]


The Dendi and his other Shongai brothers descended from the ancient kingdom of Za, whose presence recorded since the eighth century between the towns of Kukiya and Gao in the today modern Mali. It was later, in 1010, when Islam came to the territory. The Arabs subjected the people to their religion, which, however, was mixed with their indigenous religion (based, inter alia, in the belief of the holy rivers, soil and hunting). The Za Dynasty collapsed at the end of the sixteenth century, when it was conquered by the Sultan of Morocco.[1]


Today, many Dendis live in rectangular mud brick houses with corrugated tin roofs. Their culture is largely agricultural, but they also have several head of cattle. They are devoted to various crops, such as rice, cowpeas, groundnuts, cassava, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and millet grown this last from June to September, during the Period of short rains. Agriculture is practiced only by men. Women have gardens that have trees of mango, guava, citrus, papayas, bananas and dates and also serve for family meals. The Dendis also grow several types of squash. Most gardening jobs are done spor family members. The village community is patrilineal, because they believe that all men of their peoples have a common male ancestor. Dendi society has a noble caste, which has among its customs, its pressure to firstborn children to marry the daughter of his paternal uncle, to maintain the purity of the lineage.

The age at which men and women contract marriage is also varied. Thus, men marry while they are in their thirties, while girls should marry in adolescence. In Dendis society recognizes divorce. Despite that, however, all children belong to the husband's lineage. As is the case in other African societies, most men have one wife, even though Islamic law allows a man to have up to four wives. This is due to economic reasons. If a Dendi has more than one wife, each live in their own homes independently.[1]


The Dendi are almost entirely Muslim. Each Dendi city has a mosque, or at least a mosque on Friday. Some communities have imams (religious leaders) who teach Islamic philosophy and some Muslim ceremonial activities are practiced frequently.[1] In addition, his Islamic religion has a number of sects as Ibadhi, Ahmadi, Alevi, Yazidi, Druze and Khariji.[2]However, Dendi culture traits, such as spirit possession, magic, witchcraft, ancestor worship and witchcraft, yet remain remarkably rooted in Dendi society. Thus, most of the villages have magician-healers and witches. The daily ceremonies of spirit possession varies from one area to another. Thus, this type of ceremony, in some places, can occur at least once a week. The most important ceremonies are the genji bi hori (a festival where the Dendi give offerings to the "black spirits", which he, according to popular belief in the community are those who control the disease plague) and yenaandi ("rain dance"). Both take place in the dry season. Islamic marabouts (holy men) perform the main prayers of the Dendis, but also the use Dendis them in healing the sick.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e The Joshuaproject. Retrieved March 24, 2013, to 01: 50 pm.
  2. ^ a b - Dendi. Retrieved March 24, 2013, to 02: 10 pm.