History in Africa, Volume 32, , pp. When numerous speakers from different, and sometimes related, ethnic groups have words with similar sounds and evoke related meanings, this commonality powers the word into Creole use, especially if there is commonality with Southern English or the host language. This theory applies to cultural features as well, including music. In this new framework, the changes wrought by Mandinka, the Mande more broadly, and African culture generally on the South, are every bit as significant as the linguistic infusions of the Norman Conquest into what became English. Long before studying the Mandinka as an anthropologist in west Africa, I was exposed to their legacy in the United States through my contact with the Gullah of Saint Simons Island, Georgia, my home town.

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They are a West African ethnic group descended from the Mali Empire. Read on to learn more about their origins. The origins of the Mandinka ethnicity in The Gambia can be traced back to Manding Kangaba , which was one of the kingdoms of the ancient Mali Empire. These include Mandinga, Mandinka, Mandingo and Mandinko as they are widely referred to in areas close to the Guinea Conakry and Guinea Bissau borders, all the way to Saloum and throughout the whole of present-day The Gambia.

However, the group gained their independence from previous empires in the 13th century and founded their own kingdom, which stretched across West Africa. It was in the second half of the 19th century that this linguistic group converted to Islam, and today 99 per cent still practice the faith.

The Mali Empire having been founded by Sundiata Keita. Historians argue over this, but many believe that the reasons for emigrating to the west include the need to find a favourable climate for agriculture in the Senegambia region in order to boost crop production. Another reason given is that many Mandinka merchants wanted to move to areas where there was less competition in trade.

The areas west of the Mali empire did not take part in the trans-Sahara trade, and so these Mandinka traders believed they would have a better chance to grow rich. A general named Tiramang Taraore led the expansion westwards, accompanied by thousands of settlers. As a result, they conquered and settled in large parts the Cassamance region in Senegambia and Guinea Bissau. Taraore never returned to Mali and later died in Basse, a major town in present-day Gambia.

But what is clear is that when the great Mali Empire broke up, smaller Mandinka kingdoms remained all over the region, where the Empire had been. Later on, the Kaabu kingdom became an empire with 14 smaller kingdoms within it. The Kaabu empire lasted until s when it was destroyed by a large Fula army. Culture Most Mandinka live in family compounds in traditional rural villages and are fairly autonomous.

They are led by a chief and group of elders. The linguistic culture is rich in tradition, music, and spiritual ritual.

In many traditional societies in The Gambia, there was a social hierarchy as well as a political one. In a social hierarchy, the top level, or upper class, is thought of as the most important, while the lowest level of society is not highly regarded. Traditionally, Mandinka society was divided into four main groups, namely nobles, commoners, caste group and slaves. Read Next.


Samore Toure Mandinka Empire

A Muslim, he began to amass a personal following in the mids, establishing a military base on the Upper Niger. By his authority was acknowledged throughout the Kanaka region of the River Milo, in what is now eastern Guinea. By he ruled a vast Dyula empire, from the Upper Volta in the east to the Fouta Djallon in the west, over which he attempted to create a single Islamic administrative system. His imperial ambitions clashed with those of the French and there were sporadic battles between and His attempts to impose Islam on all his people resulted in a revolt in A French invasion in — 92 forced him to move


An Introduction to The Gambia’s Mandinka People

Posted by: Dr. Samori was a great warrior who fought imperialism in the 19th century such as many leaders today. He refused to submit to French colonization and thus chose the path of confrontation using warfare and diplomacy. Until the age of 20, Samori was a trader.

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