Western Maninka in Senegal

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Malinke, or Mandinka, live scattered throughout West Africa. Those living in Senegal live primarily in the Casamance region. During the 1800s, Muslims from The Gambia played a role in bringing Islam to Casamance; and today, the great majority of the Malinke are Sunni Muslims. All over West Africa the Malinke, formerly a trading people, have become powerful merchants, civil servants, and religious leaders.

The Malinke originated in the state of Manding, during the ancient empire of Mali, in the twelfth century. Manding gained her independence in 1235 A.D., which laid the foundation for Malinke greatness and expansion into the rest of West Africa. They moved in small groups west and southwest from Manding in search of better farmlands, establishing various Malinke states and kingdoms along the way. Many settled in Senegal, where the climate and well-watered land were more favorable than that of Mali.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Malinke speak a Manding language from the Niger-Congo language family. They base their livelihood on agriculture and some animal husbandry. Sorghum, millet, peanuts, beans, sweet potatoes, maize, and cotton are their primary crops. Goats and sheep are tended, and cattle are kept as a sign of wealth. However, the milk is not drunk and butter is not made. Bees are raised for honey.

The Malinke men hunt, fish, herd the livestock, and do most of the agricultural work. The women help the men do the planting and harvesting, and are also responsible for domestic chores. They gather nuts, berries, and special leaves for medicines in the forest outside their villages. Malinke men sometimes set up or work for small, part-time businesses to supplement their incomes.

The Malinke live in walled, compact villages and towns. Their houses are grouped according to family ties, with each extended family occupying a compound. A number of these compounds compose a village. Each village has a headman who acts as judge over the village. He handles disputes and helps the council of elders. He also engages in important religious functions.

Most Malinke live in huts that are round or rectangular with walls made of sun-dried brick and roofs made of thatched grass. Many young, unmarried men occupy separate bachelor quarters in the same compound as their fathers. This practice has been the norm for many years.

Traditionally, a man's wife moved into her father-in-law's compound upon marriage. However, the recent trend is for the wife to leave her father's compound sometimes even before marriage. This practice has slightly weakened the extended family as an economic unit.

The Malinke have many elaborate ceremonies associated with the different societies and initiation rites of their culture. Both boys and girls are initiated into puberty. Men are initiated and advanced in their hierarchical society, the komo. Women also have their own secret society.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The vast majority of the Malinke are Muslim. However, their Islamic beliefs have been blended with their traditional beliefs, which involved worshiping the spirits of the land. Healing, magic, and divination are also important aspects of their traditional religion. It is not uncommon for someone to first pray in the village mosque, then sacrifice a chicken to the village spirit.

Many of the Malinke consult marabouts (Muslim holy men) for healing, protective amulets, or insight into the future. Educated villagers may conceal their beliefs in magic, yet, most of them still carry amulets.

What Are Their Needs?

Very few of the Malinke are Christians. Although some Christian resources are available to them, the Malinke seem extremely devoted to their own beliefs. Prayer is the main key to opening the hearts of the Malinke to the Gospel.

Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Maninka, Western in Senegal.

* Ask the Lord of the harvest to thrust forth long-term Christian laborers.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to any missions agencies currently focusing on the Malinke.
* Pray that God will give Malinke believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a vigorous Malinke church for the glory of His name!

Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2012-02-04
People Name General Maninka, Western
People Name in Country Maninka, Western
Natural Name Western Maninka
Pronunciation mah-NEENG-kah
Population this Country 1,756,000
Population all Countries 2,455,000
Total Countries 6
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 35
Alternate Names Ivorian Malinke; Kita Maninka; Manding; Mandingo; Mandinka; Northwestern Maninka
People ID 13510
ROP3 Code 106266
Country Senegal
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Tambacounda and Kedougou regions: north of Gambia river; Kolda region: near easternmost point of The Gambia.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Senegal
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Tambacounda and Kedougou regions: north of Gambia river; Kolda region: near easternmost point of The Gambia..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Map of Maninka, Western in Senegal
Primary Language Maninkakan, Western (1,756,000 speakers)
Language Code mlq   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Maninkakan, Western (1,756,000 speakers)
Language Code mlq   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Maninkakan, Western

Primary Language:  Maninkakan, Western

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1997-2003)
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (GRN)
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Maninkakan, Western
Text / Printed Matter Online Bible text (Scripture Earth)
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.13 %)
0.50 %
Ethnic Religions
9.50 %
0.00 %
90.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
2.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
2.0 %
Roman Catholic
96.0 %
Photo Source Galen Frysinger 
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more


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