The Bambara are among the most powerful and influential people groups in West Africa. They speak Bamana, which is one of the Manding languages.
During the 1700s, there were two Bambara kingdoms: Segu and Karta. In the 1800s, militant Muslim groups overthrew these kingdoms, leaving only a few anti-Muslim Bambara warlords to resist their occupation. This lasted 40 years, until the arrival of the French. A very small number of the Bambara had converted to Islam by 1912. After World War II, the number of Muslim converts grew due to their resistance to the French and their exposure to Muslim merchants. Today, the Bambara are mostly Muslim.
Bambara people live all over the countries of West Africa including the tiny nation of Gambia.
Most of the Bambara in Gambia are farmers. Their staple crop is millet, although sorghum and groundnuts are produced in large quantities. Maize, tobacco, cassava, and various other vegetables are also grown in private gardens. Unfortunately, drought and other ecological problems have hurt the farmers in recent years.
Bambara farmers also raise cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and chickens. The neighboring Fulani herdsmen are often trusted to herd the Bambara livestock. This allows the Bambara to concentrate on farming during the short rainy season.
Many of the Bambaras hunt animals such as antelope, boar, ostrich, and guinea fowl for their meat and skins. They also gather a large amount of honey from the wild bees in the area.
Both men and women share the farming duties. However, the wives usually arrive in the fields later and leave earlier than the men. This gives them time to prepare the morning and evening meals. Children between the ages of 12 and 14 also help with the family's work, leading the oxen as they plow and guarding them during rest periods.
Each Bambara village is made up of many different households, usually all from one lineage or extended family. Every household, or gwa, is responsible to provide for all of its members, as well as to help them with their farming duties. Bambara homes are typically larger than the homes of most other West African groups. Some of the houses contain as many as 60 or more family members. The members of each gwa work together every day except for Mondays. Monday is market day and the traditional day of rest.
Islamic schools have been set up in some of the Bambara villages. However, many of the non-Muslim villages have failed to establish schools simply because the children are needed to stay home and help with the farming. For this reason, some village populations are entirely illiterate.
Marriage is very important to the Bambaras. Although the cost of marriage is high, it is viewed as a type of "investment." The main purpose for marriage is to have children, which provide the family's labor force and ensure the future of the family lineage. The average Bambara woman has eight children. All adults are married. Even elderly widows in their 70s or 80s have suitors because the Bambara believe that a wife increases a man's prestige.
Although most Bambara claim to be Muslim, many still follow their traditional beliefs such as ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors for guidance). The Bambara believe that the ancestral spirits may take on the forms of animals or even vegetables. In special ceremonies, the spirits are worshipped and presented with offerings of flour and water. The eldest member of a lineage acts as the "mediator" between the living and the dead.
Prayer is the key to tearing down the remaining strongholds that are keeping the Bambara from knowing the truth about Jesus Christ.
* Scripture Prayers for the Bambara in Gambia.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to give the Bambara people in Gambia teachable and understanding hearts.
Pray that a strong movement of the Holy Spirit will bring entire Bambara families into a rich experience of God's blessing.
Pray for Bambara families to be drawn by the Holy Spirit to seek forgiveness, and to understand the adequacy of Christ's work on the cross.
Pray for teams of believers to do sustained, focused prayer for the Lord to open the hearts of Bambara family leaders to experience God's blessing through a movement of family-based discovery Bible studies.
|Profile Source: Keith Carey|
|Expanded PDF Profile|
|People Name General||Bambara|
|People Name in Country||Bambara|
|Population this Country||24,000|
|Population all Countries||6,574,000|
|Progress Scale||1 ●|
|Frontier People Group||No|
|GSEC||1 (per PeopleGroups.org)|
|Pioneer Workers Needed||1|
|Alternate Names||Bamanakan; Kpeera; Noumou|
Primary Language: Bamanankan
|Bible Translation ▲||Status (Years)|
|Bible-New Testament||Yes (1933)|
|Possible Print Bibles|
|Forum Bible Agencies|
|National Bible Societies|
|World Bible Finder|
|Resource Type ▲||Resource Name|
|Audio Recordings||Audio Bible teaching|
|Audio Recordings||Online New Testament|
|Film / Video||God's Story video|
|Film / Video||Jesus Film: view in Bamanankan|
|Film / Video||LUMO film of Gospels|
|Film / Video||Magdalena video|
|Film / Video||The Hope Video|
|General||Gospel resources links|
|Mobile App||Download audio Bible app as APK file|
|Text / Printed Matter||Children and youth resources|
|Text / Printed Matter||Tools for faith conversations|
|Text / Printed Matter||Topical Scripture booklets and Bible studies|
|Major Religion ▲||Percent|
|Christianity (Evangelical 0.10 %)||
|Other / Small||
|Christian Segments ▲||Percent|