The Maguzawas are Hausas located in the northern part of Nigeria. They’re found in the states of Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Sokoto, and Bauchi.
They are neither Muslims nor Christians – they are idol worshippers and are involved in all sorts of fetish practices in their marriages, birth and burial ceremonies. They have stone altars scattered around their villages where they pour wine and blood of animals as a sacrifice offering to their ancestors and the gods whom they believe can protect and bless them and make the soil fertile.
They are predominantly uneducated farmers, and as a result, their lifestyle is far from civilized. The Muslims who rule over them often mistreat them because of their lack of education.
The Maguzawas are polygamists. Girls of about 13 to 15 years old are forced into early marriage, which results in an extremely high divorce rate of about 99%.
The rate of alcoholism is very high. They produce a local alcohol beverage called “burukutu” which is used for all their ceremonies, and is consumed in heavy quantities. When you see the level of their living conditions, it is easy to understand why they turn so readily to a cheap alcohol.
They are a peace-loving people, but their acceptance to the Gospel is very low. Strangers are not easily accepted and they are not easily detached from their strange lifestyles, even when they are converted to Christianity. By contrast, when they are converted to Islam, they cast away their stone altars, stop their drinking habit, and cease from eating dead animals and other strange habits. The reason for Islam’s effectiveness is the degree of force that Muslims exert on them.
We have worked among these people for close to three years. God has helped us to establish about five churches in five different villages amidst strong opposition from the Muslims who have been using the governmental authority to harass and intimidate us and our Maguzawa members.
Muslims occupy all the leading positions, political and traditional, with their state religious police force called “Hizbah”. They are working hard to convert the Maguzawas to Islam before the Christians can, and have denied them the right to have a place of worship. We have tried on three occasions to build a church with our converts in certain areas, but the Muslim fanatics, as ordered by their village heads (Dagachi) and the district heads (the Haikimi), have pulled down the church buildings, burnt down our toilets, and destroyed our crops. They say we have no permit and they will not allow one to be issued to us, while they build their mosques anywhere they want without any permits at all.
They have attacked us, brandishing dangerous weapons like guns, cudjets, axes and clubs while chanting their war songs, “Allah Huakbar!” Over six to nine Muslim villages gathered together for this onslaught, but we and our members are few in number and could not do anything to stop them. They burnt down our homes and crops, but the Lord was on our side and they did not hurt any of us.
[Note: Just last week in this same area in the Kanu State, 200 Christians were killed in an uprising just like this one.]
The Muslims entice the Maguzawas with many material items, such as motorcycles, cows for plowing, houses, money, and even wives if they will convert to Islam. They will also enforce divorce amongst the Maguzawas and make the Maguzawa women marry Muslim men in the village.
An example of how the Muslims use threats and intimidation can be seen in the story of Baba Dogo in the Toho village. Around November 2005, Baba Dogo gave his land for a church to be built on it. This angered the local government chairman and the district and village heads, so they stormed the village with armed police from the Hizbah, their local religious police, and ordered the church construction to stop. Our pastors and church members were taken into custody and finally brought to the Emir of Kano. We were charged with converting the Maguzawas to Christianity and building churches for them.
Baba Dogo was threatened that he would face the wrath of the Emir for becoming a Christian. He was afraid of what would happen to him, so he pleaded with them to forgive him and converted to Islam. As a result of that, other members caved into the threats made to them and became Muslims also.
The Local Government Chairman of the villages where we stay has insisted that we should not build our church, school or hospital without obtaining permission from his office. We have applied to his office over two years ago, but no permission has been granted. Sometimes the Chairman will even use the Nigerian police to harass us, our missionaries, and members, but we have stood our ground to demand equal rights to have a place to worship.
Another example is a man who was ordered to abandon his wife and nine children because she refused to practice Islam. He obeyed them and was given another wife and relocated to another village. His first wife has now become a Christian and up until now, has refused to deny Christ. But it is hard. She is suffering terribly without a husband to help feed these nine children and has to withstand the abuse of being called a harlot. It is very common in this area for children to die of malnutrition and other curable diseases due to a lack of proper medical care and food. She is facing some hard choices, because if she does marry, all her children will have to be surrendered to her former husband who will raise them up as Muslims.
Worthy of note is the case of an old 95-year old man who was beaten up by the village head, who was a young man of only 28 years. This old man was beaten because of his rice farm which the village head took from him by trickery.
The village head had ordered that the piece of land should be left for cows as a grazing ground. When the old man stopped farming on the land, the village head went behind him and continued to farm on the same piece of land. When the old man complained that his land should be given back to him, he was beaten up and charged with intentional insult to the person of the Dagachi. The old man became a Christian as a result of all the injustices done to him, and we missionaries went with him to court to have the charges against him dismissed.
The challenges we face are so numerous that only if you live with these people for a length of time could you even begin to grasp what they are going through. Right now, our biggest challenge is to have a place to worship. We currently hold services under a tree because there is nowhere else to go.
The missionaries here have to walk for hours, sometimes all day, to get from one place to the next because they have no transportation. These new converts need help both spiritually and medically, and the missionaries must bring both the Bible and a lot of drugs and medicines with them.
*Note from Dalen Garris:
I have been to some of these villages and have met the people that Pastor Bush has mentioned. It really is that bad, actually even worse. Pastor Bush left a good job as a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company to minister out here. He leaves his wife and children in Kanu for months at a time with little to support them, because there is no easy way for him to get back home. This is serious faith and dedication that you will not find in many places.
The persecution is real, and I fear for Pastor Bush’s life, but he is fearless and determined to establish the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this dark landscape.
He needs help. He does not have the finances to maintain an email address, but he can be contacted through the local church in Minna. If you would like to help, you can wire money through Moneygram in his name, and forward the Reference number and the Sender’s exact name to us at Horizon Ministries at (972) 938-8502 or email@example.com. If you need assistance, call us and we can help you.
You can also call him directly at 011 234 80-57446866. If you cannot get through, it is highly likely that he is either in the bush where there is no signal or he is out of phone money for his cell phone.
Make the Moneygram payable to Paul Bush. Remember to give us the Sender’s name and the Reference number you are given.
If you prefer to send a check, make it payable to Horizon Ministries and mark it For Paul Bush. Mail it to: PO Box 822, Waxahachie, TX 75168
If you want to use a credit card, please call us at (972) 938-8502.