The Malinke of Burkina Faso
Most Manding speakers can trace their roots back to the once great Mali Empire, which rose to power in the 1200's under the rule of the "lion king," Sundiata. After unifying the kingdom, Sundiata began conquering the surrounding peoples.
There are three clear divisions within Malinke society: free-born, artisans, and slaves. The free-born class is the most diverse. It formerly consisted of only noble rulers. Today, however, it includes merchants, farmers, and others. The artisans include leather craftsmen, blacksmiths, and singers, or griots. Artisans are looked upon with fear and awe because their crafts often involve spiritual rituals.
What Are Their Lives Like?
During planting and harvesting seasons, much time is spent in the fields. At other times, the men work in part-time businesses to supplement their incomes. Others raise goats, sheep, bees, poultry, and dogs. Cattle are sometimes kept, but only to gain prestige, to use as ritual sacrifices, or to use as a "bride price."
Malinke society is patrilineal (inheritances are passed down through the males). The oldest male serves as the head of the lineage. (A "minor lineage" consists of a man and his immediate family. A "major lineage" consists of households of relatives and their families.) The smallest social unit is the family; the next larger unit is the "hamlet," or village settlement. The hamlets are made up of clans, or family groups all having the same name.
Each Malinke village is surrounded by a wall, and the homes are either round or rectangular. They are made of sun-dried brick with either thatch or terraced roofs. The men do the heavy farm work, hunt, and fish. They are also responsible for village-based leadership positions, such as headman and imam, or religious leader. The women cook, clean, care for the children, help with the farming, and help the men gather produce from the forests.
Traditionally, parents arranged their daughters' marriages while the girls were still infants. Today, marriages are still arranged, but not as early. The groom is required to work for the bride's family both before and after the wedding. He must also pay the girl's family a "bride price." Unlimited polygamy is permitted among the Malinke, but the men rarely have more than three wives.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Most of the Malinke observe Islamic rituals with little understanding of what they really mean. They view Allah as being the one supreme god. However, they also see him as inaccessible and little concerned with the daily affairs of his creation. Many of the Malinke consult marabouts (Muslim "holy men") for healing, protective amulets, or insight into the future. The more educated Malinke often conceal their beliefs in this type of magic. However, there are very few villagers who do not have amulets in their possessions.
What Are Their Needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
This profile may be copied and distributed without obtaining permission
as long as it is not altered, bound, published
or used for profit purposes.