Brief History Of The Popular And Brave Mandinka People Of West Africa

Mandinka people, according to history, are the descendants of the Mali Kingdom that rose to power, under King Sundiata Keita, in the 13th century.

Mandinka/Mandingo/Malinke are groups of people spread some parts of West Africa Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Guinea, with an estimate of over 15 million people all around. They speak Mandinka, which is a branch of the Mande, a Niger-Congo language family.

During the 16th-century slave trade that became a lucrative business for the whites, about 92,000 slaves captured were the Senagambians – cluster of two Mande groups; Mandinka and Bambara.

Mandinka gained global attention when the author of Roots – a saga of an American Family written in 1976- tells an ordeal of a young African boy, Kunta Kinte, kidnapped and sold into slavery Northern America, in the18th-century; Alexander Murray Palmer Haley.
According to Palmer Haley, his lineage came through Kunta Kinte.

The Mandinka people came from the Nile River searching for fertile land to boost their crop production, were led by a brave king, Sundiata Keita who fought, conquered and took over the grounds from the owners. However, another account claimed that thousands of Mandinka merchants searching for a less competitive region to establish their business moved to the West of Mali in the leadership of general Tiramang Taraore.

These settlers raided and possessed more significant parts of the Cassamance region in Senegambia and Guinea-Bissau. Sons of

Tiramang ruled each of the settlements even after his death in Basse. The Gambia.

Malinke’s capital (present-day Mali) Kangaba in the 7th century rose to power and dominated for 13 centuries. It’s among the world’s most ancient dynasties.

Kaabu kingdom, which is the Mandinka kingdom in the Gambia, later became an empire with 14 villages under it till the invasion of the Fula army in the 1860s.


Brief History Of The Popular And Brave Mandinka People Of West Africa
Aly Keita playing the Balafon (image credit:

In Mandinka, history and mythologies are transmitted from generations using a 12-string lute-bridge harp (Kora) and a wooden xylophone. Although the Mandinka are ancient traditionalists, the Islamic religion is predominant ( after the Arab merchants arrive in the 9th – 10th century.)

Being an autonomous community, they’re being led by an appointed chief called the Mansa and elders’ group.
They practice polygamy, and both genders undergo circumcision before being considered an adult and ready to marry.

Mandinka people are subsistence agriculturalists. They produce millet, maize, rice, and sorghum. During planting or harvesting their crops, they leave their home and go live in the field.
They rear animals mostly for rituals or bride price.

Their parents were mostly merging them while they are still infants. The groom is expected to work for the girl’s family before and after the marriage, and the bride’s price must be made.

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