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(1) The self-designation (also, Malinke, Man-ding, Wangara, Mandinga, Mali) of a group of peoples living in West Africa—in southern Gambia, northern and northeastern Republic of Guinea, western Mali, the Republic of the Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Portuguese Guinea (Bissau)—who speak the Malinke language. The group also includes the Koranko and Wasulunka in the Republic of Guinea, the Manyanka in Liberia, and several other groups.

(2) A name used primarily in French works to refer to a large group of closely related peoples: the Malinke proper, or Manding, Mandinga), the Bambara (Banmana), and the Dinla. All of them live along the upper course of the Senegal and Niger rivers; they constitute the main population of western Mali, northeastern Republic of Guinea, southern and eastern Senegal, and certain regions of the Republic of the Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Portuguese Guinea (Bissau). Total population, approximately 4.2 million (1970, estimate).

The Mandingo speak languages related to the northern group of Mande languages. Most of the Mandingo are Muslims; old animistic beliefs and ancestor worship are still practiced in some areas. The chief occupation is farming (millet, corn, rice, kidney beans); livestock raising (goats, sheep, donkeys, poultry) is poorly developed; the Diula engage in trade. The basic form of Mandingo rural village settlements is a group of mud huts surrounded by a mud wall. A kindred group, usually a large patriarchal family, lives in each village. Traditional social relations, such as secret societies, caste differences, and age-class systems, are still partially retained in many regions. However, all of these ancient institutions are gradually disappearing.

According to legend, the historical center of the formation of the Mandingo peoples was located along the upper reaches of the Niger River, where, in the eighth century, the political unification of the Mandingo was achieved with the founding of the Mali state.


Sund’iatta: Mandingskii epos. Leningrad-Moscow, 1963. (Translated from French.)
Labouret, H. Les Manding et leur langue. Paris, 1934.
Labouret, H. Paysans d’Afrique occidentale. Paris [1941].




a group of languages that includes the Bambara, Malinke, and Diula dialects (Mande-tan group of the Mande languages). Malinke is spoken in Senegal, Sudan, the Republic of the Ivory Coast, Gambia, and Guinea (1.1 million people); Bambara is spoken in Senegal, Sudan, Guinea, and Upper Volta; Diula is spoken in the Republic of the Ivory Coast and Upper Volta. There are approximately 4.2 million speakers of Mandingo languages (1970, estimate).

Vowels are distinguished according to degree of opening (degree of aperture of the speech passage), for example, bere “stick,” bεrε “stone.” Other phonetic features include the presence of long vowels (ba “big,” “mother”), nasalized vowels (bo “to go out,” b5 “room”), and the labialized consonant gb. Suffixes are used in word formation and for inflection. Concept alienability and inalienability categories occur.


Delafosse, M. La Langue mandingue et ses dialectes, vol. 1. Paris, 1929.
Delaforge. Grammaire et méthode Bambara, 6th ed. Paris, 1947.


References in periodicals archive ?
In the Taylor era, government militia seized some properties belonging to ethnic Mandingo Muslims.
During the conflict between the Taylor Government and LURD forces, pro-government militias suspected Mandingo Muslim youths of being sympathetic to the LURD cause and harassed, imprisoned, and tortured them.
The country's civil war had a religious undertone in that the LURD rebels were mostly Mandingo Muslims while government troops were mostly animists and Christians.
The two last True Whig Party presidents, Tubman and Tolbert, both cultivated the Mandingo community because of its commercial importance.
Alhaji Kromah, striving to secure his ambition of becoming the national leader of Liberia's Mandingo community, travelled to Nimba and, sporting a military uniform and a gun, urged Mandingo people to support Doe's forces and called on Muslim businessmen to help finance the war.
During 1990 large number of Krahn and Mandingo fled to Sierra Leone to escape the massacres taking place, and began to regroup there, starting their own movement in exile, ULIMO, as we have described.
The AFL had spawned the LPC and itself showed signs of internal divisions between Krahn and non-Krahn elements.(55) ULIMO was split into two ethnically-defined factions, one loosely owing allegiance to Alhaji Kromah and consisting largely of Mandingo fighters, the other largely Krahn under one Roosevelt Johnson.
Even Liberians of American origin have created their own secret societies, like the Freemasons and the United Brothers of Friendship, which became veritable cults of a type familiar to pre-settler Liberian culture.(72) Perhaps the only major population group which does not participate in Poro or similar cults is the Mandingo, whose Muslim identity excludes them from the Poro and Sende or similar societies, although the Mandingo generally are widely regarded as experts in magic and various forms of esoteric religious knowledge.
There are no particular antagonisms between the NPFL's Gio and Mano fighters and the peoples of Lofa County, with the important exception of the Mandingo who were quite numerous in Lofa County before the War.