WHO are they? The Sama people groups, who live in the East Malaysian state of
Sabah, are officially classified under Bajau. The Bajau are predominantly Muslim
peoples. They speak as many as seven different mother-tongue languages which
belong to what is known as the Sama-Bajau subgroup of Malayo-Polynesian languages.
The Sama people groups are generally referred to in Sabah as the East Coast Bajau.
The government does not distinguish one Bajau group from the other. While outsiders
call them Bajau, they most commonly refer to themselves as Sama.
Most of the Sama peoples originated from the Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines.
WHERE do they live? Sama settlements are found mainly along Sabah's eastern
coastal area and particularly in Tawau, Semporna, Lahad Datu, and Sandakan districts.
One Sama settlement is located away from the east coast on the Gaya Island of Kota
Kinabalu. Many of the Sama peoples of Sabah maintain close association with the
Bajau peoples of the Sulu region as boat travel is relatively easy and common
throughout the region.
HOW many? 54,000
WHAT do they worship? The Sama are predominantly Sunni Muslims. Islamic
practices, such as fasting during Ramadan, are closely observed. Daily prayers at the
prayer room and the weekly Friday prayers in the mosque are performed. Many,
however, still participate in religious practices that have been retained from traditional
customs. For instance, spirits of the dead are thought to remain in the vicinity of the
graves, requiring expressions of continued concern from the living. They believe that
Allah permits the annual return of dead souls to the earth. They honor these souls by
cleaning their graves and by offering special prayers in some kind of Islamic context
such as the reading of Arabic prayers.
PRAYER needs: Many of the Sama people live below the poverty level. They need
help especially in the areas of health and drinking water.
Better infrastructure in the areas of education and transportation is also needed. Ask
• To send people to help the Sama with these needs and be a channel of God's
love and blessing.
The Scriptures are available in the Sama languages, pray:
• That the Sama will have access to available Scriptures in their language.