Introduction / History
The Kunante are located in the north-central region of the country along the border of Senegal. The various peoples of this region of Africa are collectively known as Sene-Gambians because most reside in Senegal and Gambia. Some, however, live in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Mauritania. A number of scholars link the Kunante to the neighboring Balante, who are a sub-group of the Jola. Their language, called Mansoanka, is a member of the Niger-Congo language family.
What are their lives like?
Little is known about the specific lifestyle of the Kunante; thus, some assumptions have been made in this profile. Like most of the people in West Africa, the Kunante are assumed to be farmers who grow a variety of crops, using very basic tools. Maize, manioc, and rice are the staple foods of this region, but squash, melons, sweet potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes are also grown. Major tree crops include bananas, coconuts, mangoes, and papayas. The Kunante raise cattle, sheep, and goats, but do not use their milk. Dogs and chickens are seen in almost every village. Hunting is of less importance than agriculture, but there is considerable gathering of wild fruits and roots; berries; and kola, shea, and palm nuts.
The Kunante live in extended family compounds, each consisting of a cluster of huts usually arranged in a circle around an open space. Often the entire compound is surrounded by a fence, hedge, or wall. The compounds usually adjoin to form compact villages. In general, the dwellings are round with mud walls and cone-shaped, thatched roofs. However, many local variations exist.
In the Kunante community, men hunt, fish, clear the land, and tend the cattle. The women do the gathering and help some with the agricultural work. Chiefs exercise political authority in the villages. Succession usually passes to the next brother or to the oldest son of the deceased's oldest sister.
Circumcision of males is practiced, and some female circumcision is also continued. These practices are mainly associated with initiation ceremonies at puberty and typically involve a period of instruction in an isolated "bush school."
The Kunante prefer cousins as marriage partners. A bride-price in livestock is paid, and often, premarital bride-service is also required. Polygyny (having more than one wife) occurs to only a limited extent. In such cases, however, each wife has her own hut, and the husband spends a fixed period with each on a rotation basis.
What are their beliefs?
Most of the population of the region are ethnic religionists, still following traditional beliefs. However, many (primarily the Fulani and Malinke) are Muslims. Few of the people are Christians. Among the Kunante, the majority are Sunni Muslims. The rest are either Christians or animists, believing that non-human objects have spirits.
What are their needs?
The Kunante have gospel recordings available in their language. Leadership and discipleship materials are needed to further the growth of the Church.
* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send additional laborers to work among the Kunante.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint the efforts of the missions agencies that are focusing on the Kunante.
* Pray that God will raise up strong leaders among the Kunante believers, who will be capable of discipling others.
* Ask God to call Christian intercessors who will commit themselves to stand in the gap for the Kunante.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Kunante church for the glory of His name!