Introduction / History
The Eastern Maninka are the second largest people group in Guinea. They are the descendants of the Mande people of the once great Mali Empire. The empire amassed a great fortune taxing the gold and ivory trade 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, one of the most important grains in the diet of West Africans.
What Are Their Lives Like?
A typical Maninka meal consists of steamed rice covered with a spicy stew of vegetables and meat or fish. Mangoes, bananas, oranges, papayas, and cashews add balance to their diet.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Eastern Maninkas live in large, walled-in villages. Within the villages, families live in separate, fenced-in compounds. Their homes are round, thatch-roof huts made of mud and sun-dried brick. Few of the homes have electricity or running water. The Eastern Maninkas primarily work as farmers, miners or merchants. They also raise cattle, but only to gain prestige within the community or to use in ceremonies.
There is a clear social order among the Maninka peoples that ranges from nobility to commoners. While each village is ruled by its own chief, the oldest descendants of the first Maninka settlers are counted as nobility and also have a certain amount of authority. The lowest and most despised class consists of craftsmen and former slaves. Maninka 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.
Some of the Maninkas prefer living in cities where they can develop a trade or work in a service occupation. While living in cities, they usually remain attached to their villages.
The Maninkas value such characteristics as honesty, logical thinking, and the ability to speak in public. Ironically, many Maninkas use manipulation and deceit as methods of getting ahead in society. For this reason, they are a very suspicious people. Men rarely have close personal relationships with each other because they expect even their closest friends to be cunning and deceitful.
The Eastern Mandinka people in Guinea have adapted the doctrines of Islam to their own beliefs, resulting in a wide variety of sects. Islam was first introduced in West Africa by Muslim merchants. Since the Maninka peoples were not required by Islamic leaders to abandon their old customs and mystical beliefs, they mixed Islam with their traditional religions. Divination, healing and the casting of spells are all important parts of their religion. In fact, Maninka Islam approves and even encourages certain magical procedures-particularly those directed towards healing the sick, preventing misfortunes and ensuring prosperity.
What Are Their Needs?
Fear plays a big role in the spiritual lives of the Eastern Mandinka people. Someone will first pray in the village mosque and then sacrifice a chicken to the spirit of the land on which his village rests. Every villager has at least one or two charms.
With permission from Maninka elders, people can show the JESUS Film in their communities and use it as a way to help them see what Christ can do for them. Almost no Eastern Maninka people have taken the step to follow Christ, perhaps partly because they think doing this will alienate their families and friends.
Pray for workers who will try to win entire Maninka families to the Savior, so they can worship him together.
Pray for the few Eastern Maninka believers to take seriously their role as Christ's ambassador to their people.
Pray for the effectiveness of the JESUS Film and gospel recordings among the Maninka.
Ask the Lord to bring about a church planting movement among the Eastern Maninka people throughout West Africa.
Scripture Prayers for the Maninka, Eastern in Guinea.