Introduction / History
The Manya of Liberia live among the larger Loma ethnic group in the Quardu-Boni chiefdom of Lofa County. They share many customs with the Loma, but are distinguished by their Manding language and Islamic religion. The Manya are considered to be the descendants of the Loma taken into slavery by Maninka jihadists like Samori Toure from Guinea at the end of the 19th century. They were forced by their masters to speak Maninka and convert to Islam. Others were the result of the marriage of Loma woman to Maninka Muslim traders. Their descendants continued to speak a dialect of the Manding language, but most reverted to their traditional beliefs. Many joined the Poro and Sande secret societies (for men and women respectively) of the animistic Lomas. It was not until the middle of the 20th century that the majority of the Manya converted to Islam.
Where are they located?
They are located in the far north-eastern portion of the country near the border of Guinea.
What are their lives like?
The Manya, like their Loma ancestors, are still farmers. They practice slash and burn agriculture growing rice, peanuts, beans, and vegetables. Trading is another important occupation for the Manya, and many travel far from home for trading purposes. Large markets can be found in both rural and urban locations. Many Manya living in urban areas work as shopkeepers or auto mechanics.
A typical Manya meal consists of steamed rice, covered with a spicy sauce of greens, palm oil, and palm soda. Meat or fish are added if available. Mangoes, bananas, oranges, and papayas add balance to their diet.
The Manya generally live in villages of over 1,000 people. Within the villages, extended families live in separate compounds. Their dwellings are thatch-roof huts made of mud daub or sun-dried brick. The compounds are composed of clans who share a common surname. Villages are ruled by a chief, but the oldest representative from the descendants of the first settlers is counted as nobility and also has authority. Men commonly have more than one wife. Their society is patriarchal, or male-dominated. The line of descent is traced through the fathers, and inheritances are passed down through the males.
The Manya 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.
What are their beliefs?
Today, the Manya are virtually all Muslims; however, they have mingled Islam with their own native beliefs. The result is a wide variety of mixtures of Islam and native religions. Islam's simplicity has made it both popular and deep-rooted in Mande culture. Because Islam does not ask its adherents to abandon all their old customs and beliefs, it is very adaptable to traditional religions. The Manya belief that spirits are either good, evil, or mischievous is derived from Muslim teachings. Also, Islam approves the use of magic to obtain healing from disease, the prevention of misfortune, and the assurance of prosperity and success.
What are their needs?
There are few Christian resources available to the Manya in their own language. Only a handful of Manya are literate in their own language. Only a handful or Manya Christian believers have been identified, with no indigenous church yet established. Fervent prayer is needed to support the missions effort among the Manya.
* Ask the Lord to send committed missionaries to share the Gospel with the Manya of Liberia.
* Pray that God would burden the Christians of neighboring ethnic groups to reach the Manya for Christ.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom, favor, and unity to Christian organizations focusing on the Manya.
* Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Manya who will boldly declare Jesus as Lord.
* Ask God to raise up prayer warriors who will faithfully intercede for the Manya.
* Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Manya.
Text source: Anonymous