Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
Introduction / History
The Konyanke are a sub-group of a larger cluster of peoples known as the Mande. The Mande are the descendants of the people of the once great Mali Empire. The empire amassed a great fortune by taxing the trade of gold and ivory in the region. Before becoming a part of the empire, the Mande were credited with revolutionizing agriculture in the area. They discovered the use of millet, which is still their staple food.
The Konyanke respect people who are honest, logical, and who can easily express themselves. They do not approve of dishonesty, but manipulation and deception are often methods of "getting ahead" in their society. For this reason, they are often suspicious of others, even their closest friends.
The Konyanke speak a Manding language called Konyaka. Manding languages are spoken in many West African nations. Although some of these languages have no written script, their oral literature is regarded as some of the best in the world.
What are Their Lives Like?
A majority of the Konyanke, like their ancestors, earn a living as farmers. They have grown cotton for centuries, as well as many grains and cereals. Cattle are also raised, but they are primarily used in ceremonies or to gain prestige within the community. Very few people drink the milk. Quite a number of Konyanke travel long distances from home to work as merchants.
The Konyanke live in large, walled-in villages. Within the villages, extended families live in separate, fenced-in compounds. Their dwellings are round, thatch-roof huts made of mud and sun-dried brick. The compounds are composed of clans who share a common surname. Such groups are normally associated with distinct totems (animals or plants that serve as emblems of the clans) and certain food prohibitions. These groups cross ethnic boundaries throughout the Manding world, and if an individual was to travel far from home, he could claim hospitality from strangers who share nothing more than his last name. Although each village is ruled by its own chief, the oldest descendants of the first settlers are counted as nobility and also have a certain amount of authority.
There is a clear social order among the Konyanke that ranges from nobility to commoners. The lowest and most despised class consists of craftsmen and former slaves. Their society is patriarchal, or male-dominated. The line of descent is traced through the fathers, and inheritances are passed down through the males. Men commonly have more than one wife.
The Konyanke children belong to "age-sets" until they marry. An age-set is a three or four year interval, with every child born in those years belonging to the same set. The children in an age-set go to school together and work together.
A typical Konyanke meal consists of steamed rice covered with a spicy stew of vegetables and meat or fish. Mangoes, bananas, oranges, papayas, and cashews help to balance their diet.
Usually, Konyanke women do all the domestic chores as well as the rice cultivation. Frequently, they perform these tasks with their babies tied to their backs.
What are Their Beliefs?
More than two-thirds of the Konyanke practice ethnic religions; the remainder are Muslim. Islam was first introduced in West Africa by traveling Muslim merchants. Since the Konyanke were not required by Islamic leaders to abandon their old customs and mystical beliefs, Islam was simply mixed with their traditional religions. It is not uncommon for a Konyanke to first say prayers in the mosque, then go and sacrifice a chicken to the "spirit of the village." Divination, healing, and casting spells are all important components of their religion.
What are Their Needs?
The Konyanke villagers are very reluctant to accept Christ. Currently, there are only a few known Konyanke believers in Guinea. Missionaries and evangelistic materials are needed to effectively reach this people group with the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into Guinea to work among the Konyanke.
* Pray that the Jesus film will be effectively used in the Konyaka language.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Konyanke towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil through worship and intercession.
* Pray that God will give the few Konyanke believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Konyanke Church for the glory of His name!
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