Mandinka in Guinea-Bissau

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

When the former colony of Portuguese Guinea won its independence in 1974, it became Guinea-Bissau. Today, this small West African nation is the home of the Malinke. The Malinke tribes speak a Manding language called Maninka. Manding languages are spoken in nine African nations by several million people. Although some of these languages have no written script, their oral literature is regarded as some of the best in the world.

Most Manding speakers can trace their roots back to the once great Mali Empire. This empire was created by several Malinke clans in the second millennium. It grew in power in the thirteenth century under the rule of the "lion king," Sundiata, who unified the kingdom and began to conquer surrounding peoples.

There are three clear divisions within Malinke society: free-born, artisans, and slaves. The free-born class is the most diverse.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most of the Malinke are farmers. They hoe their fields and do not use irrigation or fertilizer. Rice, millet, sorghum, and peanuts are their staple crops. While they raise most of their food, some food products are obtained through trade and some are gathered from the forests. During planting and harvesting seasons, much time is spent in the fields. At other times, the men work in part-time businesses to supplement their incomes. Others raise goats, sheep, bees, poultry, and dogs. Cattle are sometimes kept, but only to gain prestige, to use as ritual sacrifices, or to use as a bride price.

Malinke society is patrilineal (male-dominated) and the smallest social unit is the family. The oldest male serves as the head of the lineage. (A "minor lineage" consists of a man and his immediate family. A "major lineage" consists of households of relatives and their families.) Clans can be recognized by their symbolic emblems, animals, and plants. If someone travels to another village, he is shown hospitality by the villagers who share his last name.

Malinke villages are made up of clans, or family groups all having the same name. Each village is surrounded by a wall, and the homes are either round or rectangular. They are made of sun-dried brick with thatch roofs.

Formerly, the free-born class only consisted of noble rulers. Today, it includes merchants, farmers, and others. Artisans include leather craftsmen, blacksmiths, and praise singers (griots). Artisans are looked upon with fear and awe because their craft secrets often involve spiritual rituals. Griots are responsible for passing down the oral traditions and cultural heritage of the Malinke.

Among the Malinke, men do the heavy farm work, hunt, and fish. They also hold leadership positions such as village elders and imams (religious leaders). The women help with the farming, as well as, cook, clean, and care for the children.

Traditionally, parents arranged their daughters' marriages while the girls were still infants. Today, marriages are still arranged, but not as early. The groom is required to work for the bride's family both before and after the wedding. He must also pay the girl's family a bride price. Polygamy is commonly practiced, but men rarely have more than three wives.

What Are Their Beliefs?

In the 1860s, the Malinke were forced to convert to Islam. Since then, Islam has been blended with their traditional beliefs, which involved worshiping the spirits of the land. Today, it is not uncommon for someone to first pray in the village mosque, then sacrifice a chicken to the village spirit. Many people consult marabouts (Muslim holy men) for healing, protective amulets, or insight into the future. Educated villagers may conceal their beliefs in magic, yet, most of them still carry amulets.

What Are Their Needs?

Unfortunately, very few of the Malinke can read. Perhaps the enormous need for teachers will create open doors for reaching them with the Gospel.

Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Mandingo, Mandinka in Guinea-Bissau.

* Ask the Lord to send forth laborers into Guinea-Bissau.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Malinke.
* Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Malinke.
* Pray that God will give the Malinke believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a strong and growing Malinke Church for the glory of His name!

Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2012-02-01
People Name General Mandingo, Mandinka
People Name in Country Mandingo, Mandinka
Natural Name Mandinka
Population this Country 184,000
Population all Countries 2,264,000
Total Countries 6
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 4
Alternate Names Malinke; Mandinko; Sose
People ID 13491
ROP3 Code 106233
Country Guinea-Bissau
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Cacheu region: Sao Domingos, Cacheu, and Bigene sectors; Oio region: Farim and northern Mansaba sectors; Bafata region: Contuboel, northern Gamamundo, Sonaca sectors; Gabu region: Sonaco and Pirada sectors.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Guinea-Bissau
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Cacheu region: Sao Domingos, Cacheu, and Bigene sectors; Oio region: Farim and northern Mansaba sectors; Bafata region: Contuboel, northern Gamamundo, Sonaca sectors; Gabu region: Sonaco and Pirada sectors..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Primary Language Mandinka
Language Code mnk   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 2
Secondary Languages
Maninkakan, Eastern
Primary Language Mandinka
Language Code mnk   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 2
Secondary Languages
  Maninkakan, Eastern
People Groups Speaking Mandinka

Primary Language:  Mandinka

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1837-2000)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1989)
Bible-Complete Yes  (2013)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (FCBH)
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Mandinka
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels
Text / Printed Matter Online Bible text (Scripture Earth)
Text / Printed Matter World Missionary Press Booklets
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.80 %)
2.00 %
Ethnic Religions
32.00 %
0.00 %
62.00 %
4.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
15.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
10.0 %
20.0 %
Roman Catholic
55.0 %
Photo Source Link Up Africa 
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more


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