Soninke in Mauritania

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Have you heard of the Ghana Empire? It existed from 750 to 1240 AD in West Africa. The Soninke people were the founders and rulers of the Ghana Empire. When the empire ended, the Soninke were scattered across West Africa including what is now Mauritania. Most live in the extreme south of the country near the borders with Senegal and Mali. Rain is much more abundant in the south. Over 90% of Mauritania is part of the very dry Sahara Desert. Mauritania gained its independence from France in 1960. Unfortunately, the nation has experienced multiple military coups and human rights violations since independence. Slavery is still common in Mauritania even though it was officially outlawed in 2007. Mauritania has large deposits of iron ore.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The main occupations of the Soninke in Mauritania are agriculture, animal husbandry and trade. They are farmers who raise sorghum, rice, peanuts, and their staple crop, millet. They also raise large numbers of goats, sheep, horses, chickens, and cattle. They do very little fishing and hunting, and trade is extremely important. The Soninke trade in the local markets. They also travel to markets in other regions to trade their goods. Most Soninke live in compact villages surrounded by their farm and grazing lands. Houses line both sides of the main street, and a mosque is typically located at the village square. Soninke marriages require the payment of a bride-price. In contrast to most neighboring tribes, the bride-price is given to the bride rather than her parents and becomes part of her dowry. They forbid pre-marital sexual relations but accept polygamy (having more than one wife), with each man being limited to four wives by Islamic law. In the past, inheritances were passed down from fathers to sons. Muslim rules govern the dispersion of property: one-eighth goes to the widow, while equal shares go to each son and half shares go to each daughter. Soninke parents encourage their sons to pursue a secondary and university education while the daughters often receive at best a primary education.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Soninke in Mauritania are Sunni Muslims heavily influenced by folk religion, a belief in natural spirits. The Soninke try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Mohammad. Sunnis believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols. The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. Friday is the day of rest with Soninke attending their local mosque.

What Are Their Needs?

Among the Soninke in Mauritania, there is only a tiny group of believers. Those Soninke who turn to Christ will suffer persecution. Therefore, evangelizing is extremely difficult and dangerous. Most Soninke have not yet heard a clear presentation of the gospel in their heart language. Radio programs in Soninke could be a valuable source of the gospel.

Prayer Points

Pray that Christian radio and television broadcasts will be made available in the Soninke language. Ask the Lord to send forth laborers into Mauritania to share Christ with the Soninke. Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint the Soninke language JESUS Film as it is presented in Soninke areas. Pray that God will give the small number of Soninke believers boldness to share Christ with their own people. Ask the Lord to bring forth a strong and growing Soninke church planting movement for the glory of his name.

Scripture Prayers for the Soninke in Mauritania.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

The Waiting World - The Soninke

Source:  The Waiting World      Download

People Name General Soninke
People Name in Country Soninke
Pronunciation suh-NING-kay
Alternate Names Azer; Sarakole; Sarawulé; Serahuli; Serer; Toubakai
Population this Country 255,000
Population all Countries 3,197,000
Total Countries 10
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 5
People ID 14996
ROP3 Code 109413
ROP25 Code 307660
ROP25 Name Soninke
Country Mauritania
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 23  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Guidimaka, Gorgol, and Dakhlet Nouadhibou regions: Selibaby and Kaedi towns. 45 villages.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Mauritania
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 23  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Guidimaka, Gorgol, and Dakhlet Nouadhibou regions: Selibaby and Kaedi towns. 45 villages..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.12 %)
0.15 %
Ethnic Religions
2.00 %
0.00 %
97.85 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Soninke
Language Code snk   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Soninke
Language Code snk   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Soninke

Primary Language:  Soninke

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (2001-2018)
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Oral Bible stories One Story
Audio Recordings Oral Bible stories Story Runners
Film / Video Video / Animation Create International
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Soninke Jesus Film Project
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime Jesus Film Project
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Photo Source Link Up Africa 
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Video Source The Waiting World
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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