Prayer Profile
The Manya of Liberia

[IMAGE] The 5l,900 Manya of Liberia are located in the far northern portion of the country near the border of Guinea. They are neighbors of the Maninka, one of the major groups in the area. They speak a Mande (Manding) language that belongs to the Niger-Congo language family.

About 11 million people in nine African nations speak Manding languages. Most of these languages are oral and do not have written forms. Thus, the Mande record their history through the spoken word, and their oral literature is regarded as some of the best in the world.

The Mande inhabit the western third of Africa's great northern savanna and coastal forests. They descended from the people 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. They discovered the use of millet, which is still their staple food.

What are their lives like?
The Manya, like their ancestors, are still farmers. They rely on hoe cultivation and sometimes irrigate their crops. For centuries, they have grown cotton, as well as many grains and cereals. In addition, they also keep livestock, particularly cattle. However, cattle are kept only to gain prestige or to use in ceremonies; the Manya do not drink their milk. Trading is another important occupation for the Manya, and many men travel far from home for trading purposes. Large markets can be found in both rural and urban locations.

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

The Manya live in large, walled-in villages. Within the villages, extended families live in separate, fenced-in compounds. Their dwellings are round, thatch-roof huts made of mud and sun-dried brick. The compounds are composed of clans who share a common surname. Villages are ruled by a chief, but the oldest representative from the descendants of the first settlers is counted as nobility and also has authority. Men commonly have more than one wife.

There is a clear social order among the Manya that ranges from nobility to commoners. The lowest and most despised class consists of craftsmen and former slaves. Some people are born into certain "caste-like" trades, such as griots, or musicians. Their society is patriarchal, or male-dominated. The line of descent is traced through the fathers, and inheritances are passed down through the males.

The Manya children belong to "age-sets" until they marry. An age-set is a three or four year interval, with every child born in those years belonging to the same set. The children in an age-set go to school together and work together.

What are their beliefs?
Today, the Manya are virtually all Muslims; however, they have mingled Islam with their own native beliefs. The result is a wide variety of mixtures of Islam and native religions.

Islam was first brought to West Africa by individual merchants who served as agents to advance their religion. In addition, they helped prepare the way for a deeper, more permanent religious and cultural penetration of their faith. Islam's simplicity has made it both popular and deep-rooted in Mande culture. Because Islam does not ask its adherents to abandon all their old customs and beliefs, it is very adaptable to traditional religions. The Manya belief that spirits are either good, evil, or mischievous is derived from Muslim teachings. Also, Islam approves the use of magic to obtain healing from disease, the prevention of misfortune, and the assurance of prosperity and success. Traditional cults of the dead continue the belief in saintly forefathers acting as mediators between god and man.

What are their needs?
There are some Christian resources available to the Manya in their own language, and three missions agencies are currently targeting them. However, progress has been slow, with only a few Manya Christian believers. Fervent prayer is needed to support the missions effort among the Manya.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to send committed missionaries to share the Gospel with the Manya of Liberia.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom, favor, and unity to the missions agencies that are targeting the Manya.
  • Ask God to open the spiritual ears of the Manya as they listen to Christian broadcasts in their area.
  • Pray that God will supernaturally reveal Himself to the Manya through dreams and visions.
  • Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Manya who will boldly declare Jesus as Lord.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Manya bound.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer warriors who will faithfully intercede for the Manya.
  • Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Manya by the year 2000.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Manya
  • Country: Liberia
  • Their language: Manya
  • Population: (1990) 44,000
    (1995) 51,900
    (2000) 60,900
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Malikite) 99.9%
  • Christian: <1%
  • Church members: 16
  • Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 3
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 15,600 (31%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 1,600 (4%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 14,000 (27%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 36,300 (69%)
  • Country: Liberia
  • Population: (1990) 2,574,900
    (1995) 3,039,300
    (2000) 3,565,300
  • Major peoples in size order: Kpelle 18.3%
    Bassa 13%
    Kru 6.9%
    Mano 6.7%
    Loma 5.3%
  • Major religions: Ethnic religionist 40.2%
    Christian 38.5%
    Muslim 21%
  • Number of denominations: 52

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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