HISTORY OF MANDINGO PEOPLE
Liberia’s Youngest Tribe and Africa's Post prominent Ethno-linguistic Group
The Mandingo, also known as Malinke, Mandinka, Maninka, and Manding, is a tribe found primarily in West Africa, particularly in Gambia and Guinea, where it is the largest ethnic group. Huge populations of the Mandingoes are found in Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, and Mauritania.
The Mandingoes are linked with the ancient Central Saharan lineage, and are a branch of Mande-ethnic group. The Mandingo speak the Niger-Congo language Mandi'nka kango, which is also known as the Mandingo/Mandinka language; This is the main language of Gambia, as well as the minority language in Senegal. Mandingo is also a native language of countries with Mandingo populations; there are numerous dialectic variations of the Mandingo/Mandinka language.
The Mandingo culture includes many spiritual traditions and varied musical styles, including versatile “praise’” singers known as griots, and exquisite displays of drumming and the kora (a 21 string instrument). As part of their tradition, the Mandingoes name a child seven days after birth and believe solely in arranged marriages. Unlike other African tribes, the Mandingoes aren’t of western education, many of them attend Qur’anic schools where they learn to read and write Arabic.
After migrating to West Africa from the Niger River region, the Mandingo people contributed to their new found home through agricultural and labor-intensive economy. Most Mandingo men work in agriculture, trading rice, groundnuts, corn, and millets; others are butchers, tailors, drivers, carpenters, woodworkers, and work in animal husbandry. Most Mandingo women are housewives or work in the rice fields.
The Mandingoes are primarily Muslims, although a few of them have converted to Christianity over the years. Throughout the years, they have been discriminated against and treated as strangers in some West African countries, including Liberia. Many Liberians believe the misconception that the Mandingoes are not originally from Liberia, but rather, from Guinea. They have been told many times to “go back to their country Guinea” by Liberians who do not understand the history of Mandingoes. Truth is, Mandingoes migrated from the Niger River region between 1230 A.D and 1600 A.D.
The Mandingoes have a long and storied history that spans centuries. They have, in more recent times, helped lead their people in countries in which they’re found to break free and gain independence from colonial stronghold.