The Soninke people were the founders and rulers of the Ghana Empire. When the empire ended, the Soninke were scattered across West Africa including what is now Mali.
The Soninke now live in compact villages along the Senegal River where it enters the western border of Mali.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Due to the influence by a large nomadic tribe known as the Fulani, the Soninke have become farmers and herdsmen. They raise sorghum, rice, peanuts, and their staple crop, millet. They also raise large numbers of goats, sheep, horses, chickens, and cattle. They do very little fishing and hunting, and trade is extremely important. The Soninke trade in the local markets. They also travel to markets in other regions to trade their goods.
The Soninke have one of the highest rates of labor migration in West Africa. Much of the male population is absent from the home from two to four years doing migrant work.
With the women, old men and children left behind, a form of matriarchal (female-dominated) society has evolved. Most Soninke live in compact villages surrounded by their farm and grazing lands. Houses line both sides of the main street, and a mosque is typically located at the village square.
Soninke marriages require the payment of a bride-price. In contrast to most neighboring tribes, the bride-price is given to the bride rather than her parents and becomes part of her dowry. The Soninke forbid pre-marital sexual relations. They accept polygamy (having more than one wife), with each man being limited to four wives by Islamic law.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Soninke are Sunni Muslims heavily influenced by folk religion, a belief in natural spirits. The Soninke try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Mohammad. Sunnis believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise.
What Are Their Needs?
Soninke parents encourage their sons to pursue a secondary education while the daughters receive at best a primary education. Therefore, they need more educational opportunities, especially Soninke girls.
Pray that the believers who will soon come from the Soninke will be established in the faith and share the love of Isa or Jesus with their family and friends.
Pray that the Lord sends team of medical and agricultural experts to the Soninke in Mali to tell them about Jesus and help with their practical needs.
Pray that the Lord raises up movement of Soninke disciples who will disciple others in the ways of Christ.
Ask God to make it possible for the gospel to be broadcast via radio in the Soninke homeland in their language.
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