When the 55 in 5 initiative launched in 2020, data indicated there were three distinct Marghi groups: West, Central and East. Recent IMB research, however, reveals that the West Marghi have assimilated into the Yerwa Kanuri people of Nigeria.
Linguistic data also supports these findings. Ethnologue — the most trusted and authoritative resource on languages in use today — lists the West Marghi language as Putai, but also notes that only 50 people speak it. This means the language is nearly extinct. As the West Marghi assimilated into the Yerwa Kanuri, they adopted the latter’s language. This is not surprising; when a people group assimilates into another one, their language often dies out.
Research trips to Marghi areas have confirmed the distinction between Central and East Marghi, but local people do not talk about a separate West Marghi. Moreover, in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), the cultural and linguistic lines between the West Marghi and Yerwa Kanuri people have largely disappeared. The gospel flows freely between the groups with no major impediments.
The Yerwa Kanuri people group is considered engaged but unreached, which means that while they are less than 2 percent evangelical, there is concentrated church planting activity among them.
Since the West Marghi have assimilated into another people group, which does have access to the gospel, the IMB will no longer emphasize the West Marghi as a people group in the 55 in 5 initiative. We praise God that the West Marghi have access to the gospel, and we pray for more churches and disciples. We also lift up those in IDP camps who have been affected by terrorism and pray for their protection, healing and salvation.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2 NIV)