Soninke in Senegal

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 the nation of Senegal. The Soninke make up only about two percent of the population of Senegal. Senegal gained its independence from France in 1960. Since that time Senegal has been relatively politically stable compared to the surrounding West African nations. The presidency has been peaceably transferred to another leader following elections. That is not common in West Africa. Senegal has been open to foreign investment especially from France and the USA. Most Soninke live in the east central part of Senegal near the Malian and Mauritanian borders though they also live in other places in West Africa.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Their main occupations are agriculture, animal husbandry and trade. The social structure and organization of the Soninke are typical of Mande-related people groups. 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 primary education.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Soninke in Senegal 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 all the Soninke in Senegal, there are few if any followers of Christ. Those who put their faith in Christ will suffer persecution. Therefore, evangelizing is extremely difficult. Most Soninke have not yet heard a clear presentation of the gospel in their heart language.

Prayer Points

Pray the Lord provides trained pastors and Bible teachers for the Soninke church. Pray that the tiny group of believers would be strong in the faith and share the gospel with family and friends. Pray for a Disciple Making Movement among the Soninke of Senegal in this decade. Ask the Lord to send forth laborers into Senegal to share the good news with the Soninke.

Scripture Prayers for the Soninke in Senegal.

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 402,000
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 8
People ID 14996
ROP3 Code 109413
ROP25 Code 307660
ROP25 Name Soninke
Country Senegal
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Tambacounda region: (Kinxenna dialect), along Senegal river south bank, Koudi area; Matam region: Kanel district; Kolda region: north of Velingara. 42 villages, Bakel, Ouaoundé, Moudéri, and Yaféra are principal towns.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Senegal
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Tambacounda region: (Kinxenna dialect), along Senegal river south bank, Koudi area; Matam region: Kanel district; Kolda region: north of Velingara. 42 villages, Bakel, Ouaoundé, Moudéri, and Yaféra are principal towns..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.05 %)
2.00 %
Ethnic Religions
15.00 %
0.00 %
83.00 %
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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