Prayer Profile
The Maninka of Guinea Bissau

[IMAGE] The Maninka are a sub-group of a much larger people group known as the Mande, who inhabit the western portion of Africa's northern plains and coastal forests. The Maninka are skilled farmers, miners, and merchants. They are also known to possess such qualities as resourcefulness and leadership.

The Maninka are the descendants of the once great Mali Empire. The empire amassed a great fortune by taxing the trade of gold and ivory in the region. Before becoming a part of the empire, the Mande were credited with revolutionizing agriculture in the area, primarily their discovery of the use of millet.

The Maninka speak Maninka, one of many Manding languages. The Manding languages are spoken in nine African nations by approximately 11 million people. Although some of these languages have no written script, their oral literature is regarded as some of the best in the world.

What Are Their Lives Like?
The climate in Guinea Bissau is tropical, with the temperature varying between 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Throughout the course of the year, there are only two discernible seasons: wet and dry. The hot, rainy season lasts from June until November. It is then that the country receives the bulk of its 78 inch annual rainfall. The cooler, dry season begins in December and goes through May. The Maninka take advantage of their tropical climate by farming when the seasons permit. They are also involved in trading, mining, and raising livestock. Cattle are kept, but only for prestige or to use as sacrifices in religious ceremonies.

The Maninka live in large, walled-in villages. Within the villages, families live in separate, fenced-in compounds. Their homes are thatch-roofed huts made of mud and sun-dried brick. Few of them have electricity or running water. Some of the Maninka prefer living in cities where they can develop a trade. Nevertheless, while living in the cities, they usually remain attached to their villages in some way.

Maninka society is patriarchal, or male-dominated. The line of descent is traced through the fathers, and inheritances are passed down through the males. Men commonly have more than one wife. Each village is ruled by its own chief; however, the oldest descendants of the first Maninka settlers are counted as nobility and also have a certain amount of authority. There is a clear social order among the Maninka that ranges from nobility to commoners. The lowest and most despised class consists of craftsmen, former slaves, and griots, or musicians and singers. The griots are responsible for passing down the oral traditions of the Maninka.

A typical Maninka meal consists of steamed rice covered with a spicy stew of vegetables and meat or fish. Mangoes, bananas, oranges, papayas, and cashews add balance to their diet.

What Are Their Beliefs?
The Maninka have adapted the doctrines of Islam to their own beliefs, resulting in a wide variety of sects. Islam was first introduced in West Africa by Muslim merchants. Their desire was to enhance the region both religiously and culturally. Since the Maninka were not required by Islamic leaders to abandon their old customs and beliefs, Islam was simply mixed with their traditional religions. Divination, healing, and the casting of spells are all important parts of their religion. In fact, Maninka Islam approves certain magical procedures—particularly those directed towards healing the sick, preventing misfortunes, and ensuring prosperity.

Sadly, fear plays a big role in the spiritual lives of the Maninka. It is not uncommon for someone to first pray in the village mosque, and then sacrifice a chicken to the "village spirit." Practically every villager has at least one or two charms in his possession.

What Are Their Needs?
Although evangelistic tools such as the New Testament and Christian radio broadcasts have been made available to the Maninka, the villagers are very reluctant to accept Christ. Prayer is the key to reaching these precious souls with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting the Maninka.
  • Pray for the effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Maninka.
  • Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio in their area.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Maninka through dreams and visions.
  • Pray that God will give the Maninka believers boldness to share the love of Christ with their own people.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Maninka bound for many generations.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Guinea Bissau through worship and intercession.
  • Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Maninka of Guinea Bissau by the year 2000.

See also the following related groups:
The Maninka of Senegal, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia;
the Ivorian Malinke of Coté d'Ivoire;
the Mandinka of Senegal and Gambia;
and the Malinke of Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Malinke
  • Country: Guinea Bissau
  • Their language: Maninka
  • Population: (1990) 9,600
    (1995) 10,700
    (2000) 11,900
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Sunni) 65%
    Ethnic religionist 30%
    Nonreligious 4%
  • Christians: 1%
  • Church members: 107
  • Scriptures in their own language: Portions
  • Jesus Film in their own language: Available
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 1
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 3,600 (34%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 700 (7%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 2,900 (27%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 7,100 (66%)
  • Country: Guinea-Bissau
  • Population: (1990) 964,000
    (1995) 1,072,700
    (2000) 1,192,400
  • Major peoples in size order: Balanta 26.4%
    Fulakunda 17.9%
    Mandyak 12.7%
    Mandinka 9.9%
    Guinean Mestico 9.1%
  • Major religions: Ethnic religionist 46.9%
    Muslim 44.3%
    Christian 8.2%
  • Number of denominations: 7

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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