The Kunante of Guinea-Bissau
The Kunante of Guinea-Bissau are located in the north-central region of the country along the border of Senegal. The various peoples of this region of Africa are collectively known as Sene-Gambians because most reside in Senegal and Gambia. Some, however, live in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Mauritania. A number of scholars link the Kunante to the neighboring Balante, who are a sub-group of the Jola. Their language, called Mansoanka, is a member of the Niger-Congo language family.
Most of Guinea-Bissau is a low-lying, swampy coastal plain. The land rises gradually to form a plateau region in the east. The maximum elevation of about 1,017 feet is found in the southeast. Within the country, there are about 30 different ethnic groups, the major ones being the Balante, Fulani, Pepel, Malinke, and Mandyako. The official language is Portuguese, but Crioulo, a mixture of Portuguese and African elements, is more commonly spoken.
What are their lives like?
The early history of Guinea-Bissau is obscure, but some of the major ethnic groups of the country were apparently established there by the twelfth century. In 1446, the area was visited by a Portuguese slave trader and became an important slave center.
Little is known about the specific lifestyle of the Kunante; thus, some assumptions have been made in this profile. Like most of the people in West Africa, the Kunante are assumed to be farmers who grow a variety of crops, using very basic tools. Maize, manioc, and rice are the staple foods of this region, but squash, melons, sweet potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes are also grown. Major tree crops include bananas, coconuts, mangoes, and papayas. The Kunante raise cattle, sheep, and goats, but do not use their milk. Dogs and chickens are seen in almost every village. Hunting is of less importance than agriculture, but there is considerable gathering of wild fruits and roots; berries; and kola, shea, and palm nuts.
The Kunante live in extended family compounds, each consisting of a cluster of huts usually arranged in a circle around an open space. Often the entire compound is surrounded by a fence, hedge, or wall. The compounds usually adjoin to form compact villages. In general, the dwellings are round with mud walls and cone-shaped, thatched roofs. However, many local variations exist.
In the Kunante community, men hunt, fish, clear the land, and tend the cattle. The women do the gathering and help some with the agricultural work. Chiefs exercise political authority in the villages. Succession usually passes to the next brother or to the oldest son of the deceased's oldest sister.
Circumcision of males is practiced, and some female circumcision is also continued. These practices are mainly associated with initiation ceremonies at puberty and typically involve a period of instruction in an isolated "bush school."
The Kunante prefer cousins as marriage partners. A bride-price in livestock, commonly pigs, is paid, and often, premarital bride-service is also required. Polygyny (having more than one wife) occurs to only a limited extent. In such cases, however, each wife has her own hut, and the husband spends a fixed period with each on a rotation basis.
What are their beliefs?
Most of the population of Guinea-Bissau are ethnic religionists, still following traditional beliefs. However, 41% (primarily the Fulani and Malinke) are Muslims. Only 11% of the people are Christians. Among the Kunante, approximately 90% are Sunni Muslims. The rest are either Christians or animists, believing that non-human objects have spirits
What are their needs?
The Kunante are 6% Christian, but they are without any Christian resources in their own language. There are, however, two missions agencies currently working among them. Leadership and discipleship materials are needed to further the growth of the Church.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send additional laborers to work among the Kunante of Guinea-Bissau.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint the efforts of the missions agencies that are targeting the Kunante.
- Pray that the Jesus film and evangelistic materials will soon be available to the Kunante.
- Ask the Lord to raise up linguists to translate the Bible into the Mansoanka language.
- Pray that God will raise up strong leaders among the Kunante believers, who will be capable of discipling others.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Kunante bound.
- Ask God to call Christian intercessors who will commit themselves to stand in the gap for the Kunante.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Kunante church for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Kunante
- Country: Guinea-Bissau
- Their language: mansoanka
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 6%
- Church members: 680
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 2
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 3,600 (32%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 7,800 (68%)
- Country: Guinea-Bissau
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 7
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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