The Mandinka (or Manding, Mandingue, Mandingo) are a West African ethnolinguistic people present mainly in Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, Ivory coast, Ghana and Guinea-Bissau. The Mandinka are also present to a lesser extent in Sierra Leone and far north of Liberia, where they are very much in the minority. In terms of population, the Mandinka are estimated to number over 11 million. Etymologically speaking the term “Mandinka” or “Manding” is a deformation of the word mandenka, that is to say "inhabitant of Manden” (-ka being the suffix meaning "inhabitant"), the historic centre of the Mali Empire. The term Malinké of Fulani origin is synonymous with Manding. The Mandinka or Manding are in several sub-groups as to which the Malinke gave birth to the Bambara, Dioula, Diakhanke and the Malinke themselves who constitute towards the Mandinka people. The Mandinka who speak Manding Languages are the largest subgroup of the Mande speaking peoples, which is one of the largest language groups in Africa. Over 99% of the Mandinka adhere to Islam. Their largest urban centre is Bamako, the capital of Mali.
|c. 11 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|The Gambia||700,568 (34.4%)|
|Sierra Leone||160,080 (2.3%)|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Other Mandé peoples, especially the Bambara, Dioula, Soninke, Yalunka, and Khassonké|
The Mandinka are the descendants of the Mali Empire, which rose to power in the 13th century under the rule of Mansa Sundiata Keita, who founded an empire that would go on to span a large part of West Africa. They migrated west from the Niger River in search of better agricultural lands and more opportunities for conquest. Nowadays, the Mandinka inhabit the West Sudanian savanna region extending from The Gambia and the Casamance region in Senegal to Ivory Coast. Although widespread, the Mandinka constitute the largest ethnic group only in the countries of Mali, Guinea and The Gambia. Most Mandinka live in family-related compounds in traditional rural villages. Their traditional society has featured socially stratified castes.: 43–44  Mandinka communities have been fairly autonomous and self-ruled, being led by a chief and group of elders. Mandinka has been an oral society, where mythologies, history and knowledge are verbally transmitted from one generation to the next. Their music and literary traditions are preserved by a caste of griots, known locally as jelis, as well as guilds and brotherhoods like the donso (hunters).
The Soninkes established the Empire of Ghana, or Wagadou, from the 3rd century. Between the 11th century and the 12th century, the Keita clan unified the Mandinka tribes located in Manden. Then at the beginning of the 13th century, they built the Empire of Mali under the direction of Sundjata Keïta which frees them from the domination of the Kingdom of Sosso (another Mandinka Kingdom) of Soumaoro Kanté and proclaims the Charter of Manden. The Mandinka constituted many kingdoms and Empires which lasted until the end of the 19th century with European colonization, among the best known:
- The Bambara kingdoms of Ségou and Kaarta, Mali.
- The Kaabu, between Senegal and Guinea-Bissau.
- The Sosso Empire, between Mauritania and Mali.
- Kabadougou, North Ivory Coast.
- The Khasso, in the west of Mali.
- The Niani, extreme eastern Guinea, on the west bank of the Sankarani River.
- The Kangaba, Koulikoro Region of south-western Mali.
- Woulli, Bambouk, in eastern Senegal.
- The Ouattara Empire, centered in Northeastern Ivory Coast that also encompassed much of present-day Burkina Faso.
The Manden reigon is considered to be the country of origin of the Manding, in the south of Mali. The Mandinka inhabited this area alongside other ethnic groups who came from the Manding, the Susu who migrated out of Manden Reigon and the Khassonke who are a mix of Mandinka and Fulani.
The history of Mandinka people started in the Manden (or Manding or Mandé) region, what is now southern Mali. Hunters from the Ghana Empire (or Wagadou) founded the Mandinka country in Manden. The mythical origin of the Malinké and the Bambara people are their mythical ancestors, Kontron and Sanin, the founding "hunter brotherhood". The country was famous for the large number of animals and game that it sheltered, as well as its dense vegetation, so was a very popular hunting ground. The Camara (or Kamara) are believed to be the oldest family to have lived in Manden, after having left Ouallata, a region of Wagadou, in the south-east of present-day Mauritania, due to drought. They founded the first village of Manding, Kirikoroni, then Kirina, Siby, Kita. A very large number of families that make up the Mandinka community were born in Manden. Manding is the province from which the Mali Empire started, under the leadership of Sundiata Keita. The Manden were initially a part of many fragmented kingdoms that formed after the collapse of Ghana empire in the 11th century. During the rule of Sundiata Keita, these kingdoms were consolidated, and the Mandinka expanded west from the Niger River basin under Sundiata's general Tiramakhan Traore. This expansion was a part of creating a region of conquest, according to the oral tradition of the Mandinka people. This migration began in the later part of the 13th century.
The beginnings of Mandinka
We originated from Tumbuktu in the land of the Mandinka: the Arabs were our neighbours there... All the Mandinka came from Mali to Kaabu.
—Mandinka de Bijini, Transl: Toby Green
The oral traditions in Guinea-Bissau
Another group of Mandinka people, under Faran Kamara – the son of the king of Tabou – expanded southeast of Mali, while a third group expanded with Fakoli Kourouma.
With the migration, many gold artisans and metal working Mandinka smiths settled along the coast and in the hilly Fouta Djallon and plateau areas of West Africa. Their presence and products attracted Mandika merchants and brought trading caravans from north Africa and the eastern Sahel, states Toby Green – a professor of African History and Culture. It also brought conflicts with other ethnic groups, such as the Wolof people, particularly the Jolof Empire.
The caravan trade to North Africa and Middle East brought Islamic people into Mandinka people's original and expanded home region. The Muslim traders sought presence in the host Mandinka community, and this likely initiated proselytizing efforts to convert the Mandinka from their traditional religious beliefs into Islam. In Ghana, for example, the Almoravids had divided its capital into two parts by 1077, one part was Muslim and the other non-Muslim. The Muslim influence from North Africa had arrived in the Mandinka region before this, via Islamic trading diasporas.
In 1324, Mansa Musa who ruled Mali, went on Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca with a caravan carrying gold. Shihab al-Umari, the Arabic historian, described his visit and stated that Musa built mosques in his kingdom, established Islamic prayers and took back Maliki school of Sunni jurists with him. According to Richard Turner – a professor of African American Religious History, Musa was highly influential in attracting North African and Middle Eastern Muslims to West Africa.
The Mandinka people of Mali converted early, but those who migrated to the west did not convert and retained their traditional religious rites. One of the legends among the Mandingo of western Africa is that the general Tiramakhan Traore led the migration, because people in Mali had converted to Islam and he did not want to. Another legend gives a contrasting account, and states that Traore himself had converted and married Muhammad's granddaughter. The Traore's marriage with a Muhammad's granddaughter, states Toby Green, is fanciful, but these conflicting oral histories suggest that Islam had arrived well before the 13th century and had a complex interaction with the Mandinka people.
Through a series of conflicts, primarily with the Fula-led jihads under Imamate of Futa Jallon, many Mandinka converted to Islam. In contemporary West Africa, the Mandinka are predominantly Muslim, with a few regions where significant portions of the population are not Muslim, such as Guinea Bissau, where 35 percent of the Mandinka practice Islam, more than 20 percent are Christian, and 15 percent follow traditional beliefs.
Slave raiding, capture and trading in the Mandinka regions may have existed in significant numbers before the European colonial era, as is evidenced in the memoirs of the 14th century Moroccan traveller and Islamic historian Ibn Battuta. Slaves were part of the socially stratified Mandinka people, and several Mandinka language words, such as Jong or Jongo refer to slaves. There were fourteen Mandinke kingdoms along the Gambia River in the Senegambia region during the early 19th century, for example, where slaves were a part of the social strata in all these kingdoms.
|Region||Total embarked||Total disembarked|
|West central Africa||5.69 million|
|Bight of Benin||2.00 million|
|Bight of Biafra||1.6 million|
|Gold Coast||1.21 million|
|Windward Coast||0.34 million|
|Sierra Leone||0.39 million|
|Brazil (South America)||4.7 million|
|Rest of South America||0.9 million|
|North America||0.4 million|
According to Toby Green, selling slaves along with gold was already a significant part of the trans-Saharan caravan trade across the Sahel between West Africa and the Middle East after the 13th century. With the arrival of Portuguese explorers in Africa as they looked for a sea route to India, the European purchase of slaves had begun. The shipment of slaves by the Portuguese, primarily from the Jolof people, along with some Mandinka, started in the 15th century, states Green, but the earliest evidence of a trade involving Mandinka slaves is from and after 1497 CE. In parallel with the start of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the institution of slavery and slave-trading of West Africans into the Mediterranean region and inside Africa continued as a historic normal practice.
Slavery grew significantly between the 16th and 19th century. The Portuguese considered slave sources in Guinea and Senegambia parts of Mandinka territory as belonging to them, with their 16th to 18th century slave trade-related documents referring to "our Guinea" and complaining about slave traders from other European nations superseding them in the slave trade. Their slave exports from this region nearly doubled in the second half of the 18th century compared to the first, but most of these slaves disembarked in Brazil.
Scholars have offered several theories on the source of the transatlantic slave trade of Mandinka people. According to Boubacar Barry, a professor of History and African Studies, chronic violence between ethnic groups such as Mandinka people and their neighbours, combined with weapons sold by slave traders and lucrative income from slave ships to the slave sellers, fed the practice of captives, raiding, manhunts, and slaves. The victimised ethnic group felt justified in retaliating. Slavery was already an accepted practice before the 15th century. As the demand grew, states Barry, Futa Jallon led by an Islamic military theocracy became one of the centers of this slavery-perpetuating violence, while Farim of Kaabu (the commander of Mandinka people in Kaabu) energetically hunted slaves on a large scale. Martin Klein (a professor of African Studies) states that Kaabu was one of the early suppliers of African slaves to European merchants.
The historian Walter Rodney states that Mandinka and other ethnic groups already had slaves who inherited slavery by birth, and who could be sold. The Islamic armies from Sudan had long established the practice of slave raids and trade. Fula jihad from Futa Jallon plateau perpetuated and expanded this practice. These jihads were the largest producer of slaves for the Portuguese traders at the ports controlled by Mandinka people. The insecure ethnic groups, states Rodney, stopped working productively and became withdrawn, which made social and economic conditions desperate, and they also joined the retaliatory cycle of slave raids and violence.
Walter Hawthorne (a professor of African History) states that the Barry and Rodney explanation was not universally true for all of Senegambia and Guinea where high concentrations of Mandinka people have traditionally lived. Hawthorne states that large numbers of Mandinka people started arriving as slaves in various European colonies in North America, South America and the Caribbean only between mid 18th through to the 19th century. During these years, slave trade records show that nearly 33% of the slaves from Senegambia and Guinea-Bissau coasts were Mandinka people. Hawthorne suggests three causes of Mandinka people appearing as slaves during this era: small-scale jihads by Muslims against non-Muslim Mandinka, non-religious reasons such as economic greed of Islamic elites who wanted imports from the coast, and attacks by the Fula people on Mandinka's Kaabu with consequent cycle of violence.
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The Mandinka people are genetically closely related to other West African ethnic groups. Y-chromosome analyses found that Mandinka people are resembling other West Africans characterized by a high frequency of E3a*-M2 (E1b1a) at ~82,5%, other African haplogroups, and lower frequency of West-Eurasian haplogroups contributed by North African pastoralist groups. Autosomal DNA studies found that the Mandinka, like certain other West African populations, display some West-Eurasian autosomal genetic admixture, probably contributed through a North African Berber layer, at roughly ~10% (8-13%), with their remainder ancestry being made up of mostly West African-like ancestry.
Mandinka are rural subsistence farmers who rely on peanuts, rice, millet, maize, and small-scale husbandry for their livelihood. During the wet season, men plant peanuts as their main cash crop. Men also grow millet and women grow rice (traditionally, African rice), tending the plants by hand. This is extremely labour-intensive and physically demanding work. Only about 50% of the rice consumption needs are met by local planting; the rest is imported from Asia and the United States.
The oldest male is the head of the family and marriages are commonly arranged. Small mud houses with conical thatch or tin roofs make up their villages, which are organised on the basis of the clan groups. While farming is the predominant profession among the Mandinka, men also work as tailors, butchers, taxi drivers, woodworkers, metalworkers, soldiers, nurses, and extension workers for aid agencies. However, most women, probably 95%, tend to the home, children, and animals as well as work alongside the men in the fields.
Today, most people of Mandinka practice Islam. Mandinkas recite chapters of the Qur'an in Arabic. Some Mandinka syncretise Islam and traditional African religions. Among these syncretists spirits can be controlled mainly through the power of a marabout, who knows the protective formulas. In most cases, no important decision is made without first consulting a marabout. Marabouts, who have Islamic training, write Qur'anic verses on slips of paper and sew them into leather pouches (talisman); these are worn as protective amulets.
The conversion to Islam took place over many centuries. According to Robert Wyndham Nicholls, Mandinka in Senegambia started converting to Islam as early as the 17th century, and most of Mandinka leatherworkers there converted to Islam before the 19th century. The Mandinka musicians, however were last, converting to Islam mostly in the first half of the 20th century. Like elsewhere, these Muslims have continued their pre-Islamic religious practices such as their annual rain ceremony and "sacrifice of the black bull" to their past deities.
Society and cultureEdit
Most Mandinkas live in family-related compounds in traditional rural villages. Mandinka villages are fairly autonomous and self-ruled, being led by a council of upper class elders and a chief who functions as a first among equals.
The Mandinka people have traditionally been a socially stratified society, like many West African ethnic groups with castes. The Mandinka society, states Arnold Hughes – a professor of West African Studies and African Politics, has been "divided into three endogamous castes – the freeborn (foro), slaves (jongo), and artisans and praise singers (nyamolo). The freeborn castes are primarily farmers, while the slave strata included labor providers to the farmers, as well as leather workers, pottery makers, metal smiths, griots, and others. The Mandinka Muslim clerics and scribes have traditionally been considered as a separate occupational caste called Jakhanke, with their Islamic roots traceable to about the 13th century.
The Mandinka castes are hereditary, and marriages outside the caste was forbidden. Their caste system is similar to those of other ethnic groups of the African Sahel region, and found across the Mandinka communities such as those in Gambia, Mali, Guinea and other countries.
Rites of passageEdit
The Mandinka practice a rite of passage, kuyangwoo, which marks the beginning of adulthood for their children. At an age between four and fourteen, the youngsters have their genitalia ritually cut (see articles on male and female genital cutting), in separate groups according to their sex. In years past, the children spent up to a year in the bush, but that has been reduced now to coincide with their physical healing time, between three and four weeks.
During this time, they learn about their adult social responsibilities and rules of behaviour. Preparation is made in the village or compound for the return of the children. A celebration marks the return of these new adults to their families. As a result of these traditional teachings, in marriage a woman's loyalty remains to her parents and her family; a man's to his.
Female genital mutilationEdit
The women among the Mandinka people, like other ethnic groups near them, have traditionally practiced female genital mutilation (FGM), traditionally referred to as "female circumcision." According to UNICEF, the female genital mutilation prevalence rates among the Mandinkas of the Gambia is the highest at over 96%, followed by FGM among the women of the Jola people's at 91% and Fula people at 88%. Among the Mandinka women of some other countries of West Africa, the FGM prevalence rates are lower, but range between 40% to 90%. This cultural practice, locally called Niaka or Kuyungo or Musolula Karoola or Bondo, involves the partial or total removal of the clitoris, or alternatively, the partial or total removal of the labia minora with the clitoris.
Some surveys, such as those by the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP), estimate FGM is prevalent among 100% of the Mandinkas in Gambia. In 2010, after community efforts of UNICEF and the local government bodies, several Mandinka women's organizations pledged to abandon the female genital mutilation practices.
Marriages are traditionally arranged by family members rather than either the bride or groom. This practice is particularly prevalent in the rural areas. Kola nuts, a bitter nut from a tree, are formally sent by the suitor's family to the male elders of the bride-to-be, and if accepted, the courtship begins.
Polygamy has been practiced among the Mandinka since pre-Islamic days. A Mandinka man is legally allowed to have up to four wives, as long as he is able to care for each of them equally. Mandinka believe the crowning glory of any woman is the ability to produce children, especially sons. The first wife has authority over any subsequent wives. The husband has complete control over his wives and is responsible for feeding and clothing them. He also helps the wives' parents when necessary. Wives are expected to live together in harmony, at least superficially. They share work responsibilities of the compound, such as cooking, laundry, and other tasks.
Mandinka culture is rich in tradition, music, and spiritual ritual. Mandinkas continue a long oral history tradition through stories, songs, and proverbs. In rural areas, western education's impact is minimal; the literacy rate in Latin script among these Mandinka is quite low. However, more than half the adult population can read the local Arabic script (including Mandinka Ajami); small Qur'anic schools for children where this is taught are quite common. Mandinka children are given their name on the eighth day after their birth, and their children are almost always named after a very important person in their family.
The Mandinka have a rich oral history that is passed down through griots. This passing down of oral history through music has made music one of the most distinctive traits of the Mandinka. They have long been known for their drumming and also for their unique musical instrument, the kora. The kora is a twenty-one-stringed West-African harp made out of a halved, dried, hollowed-out gourd covered with cow or goat skin. The strings are made of fishing line (these were traditionally made from a cow's tendons). It is played to accompany a griot's singing or simply on its own.
The kora has become the hallmark of traditional Mandinka musicians". The kora with its 21 strings is made from half a calabash, covered with cow's hide fastened on by decorative tacks. The kora has sound holes in the side which are used to store coins offered to the praise singers, in appreciation of their performance. The praise singers are called "jalibaas" or "jalis" in Mandinka.
In literature and other mediaEdit
One Mandinka outside Africa is Kunta Kinte, a main figure in Alex Haley's book Roots and a subsequent TV mini-series. Haley claimed he was descended from Kinte, though this familial link has been criticised by many professional historians and at least one genealogist as highly improbable (see D. Wright's The World And A Very Small Place). Martin R. Delany, a 19th-century abolitionist, military leader, politician and physician in the United States, was of partial Mandinka descent.
Sinéad O'Connor's 1988 hit "Mandinka" was inspired by Alex Haley's book.
Mr. T, of American television fame, once claimed that his distinctive hairstyle was modelled after a Mandinka warrior that he saw in National Geographic magazine. In his motivational video Be Somebody... or Be Somebody's Fool!, he states: "My folks came from Africa. They were from the Mandinka tribe. They wore their hair like this. These gold chains I wear symbolize the fact that my ancestors were brought over here as slaves." In a 2006 interview, he reiterated that he modeled his hair style after photographs of Mandinka men he saw in National Geographic.
Many early works by Malian author Massa Makan Diabaté are retellings of Mandinka legends, including Janjon, which won the 1971 Grand prix littéraire d'Afrique noire. His novels The Lieutenant of Kouta, The Barber of Kouta and The Butcher of Kouta attempt to capture the proverbs and customs of the Mandinka people in novelistic form.
Notable people by countryEdit
- Joffrey Bazié, Burkinabé footballer
- Amadou Coulibaly, Burkinabé footballer
- Bryan Dabo
- Yaya Darlaine Coulibaly
- Joseph Ki-Zerbo, political leader and historian
- Bakary Koné, Burkinabé footballer
- Cheick Kongo, Burkinabé mixed martial artist
- General Sangoulé Lamizana, former President 1966–1980
- Oumarou Nébié
- Colonel Saye Zerbo, former President 1980–1982
- Adama Barrow, politician; third president of the Gambia since 2017[update]
- Jatto Ceesay, footballer
- Ousainou Darboe, Foreign Minister of the Gambia
- Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, veteran politician and the First vice President of the Gambia
- Abdoulie Janneh, former UN Under-Secretary General
- Sidia Jatta, opposition politician
- Alhajj Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, first President of the Gambia
- Sona Jobarteh, first female kora artist (musician)
- Bubacarr Jobe
- Jaliba Kuyateh, kora artist and celebrated musician in the Mandinka language
- Kekuta Manneh
- Professor Lamin O. Sanneh, academician and author
- Abdoulie Sanyang
- Ebrima Sohna
- Foday Musa Suso, international musician
- Momodou Touray, footballer
- Sekouba Bambino, Guinean musician
- Aguibou Camara
- Bafodé Diakité
- Ibrahim Toure
- Ibrahima Cissé
- Momo Cissé
- Alpha Condé, Guinean President since 2010[update]; first elected 2010, reelected 2015 and 2020
- Mamady Condé, Guinean foreign minister from 2004 to 2007
- Sékou Condé, Guinean footballer
- Sona Tata Condé, Guinean musician
- Amadou Diawara
- Djeli Moussa Diawara, Guinean musician (also known as Jali Musa Jawara - 32-stringed Kora player)
- Kaba Diawara, Guinean footballer
- Mamady Doumbouya, Guinean military officer
- Daouda Jabi, Guinean footballer
- Mamadi Kaba, Guinean footballer
- Sory Kaba, Guinean footballer
- Mory Kanté, Guinean kora musician
- Alhassane Keita, Guinean footballer
- Mamady Keïta, Guinean musician
- Naby Keita, Guinean footballer
- Kabiné Komara, former Prime Minister of Guinea
- Famoudou Konaté, Guinean musician
- General Sékouba Konaté, former Head of State of Guinea
- Lansana Kouyaté, former prime minister of Guinea
- N'Faly Kouyate, Guinean musician
- Fodé Mansaré, Guinean footballer
- Petit Sory, Guinean footballer
- Sekou Touré, President of Guinea from 1958 to 1984; was also the grandson of Samory Touré
- Diarra Traoré, former Prime Minister of Guinea
- Samori Ture, founder of the Wassoulou Empire, an Islamic military state that resisted French rule in West Africa
- Mohamed Yattara
- Yalany Baio, Bissau-Guinean footballer
- Romário Baró, footballer
- Mimito Biai, Bissau-Guinean footballer
- Sana Canté, Bissau-Guinean activist
- Rui Dabó, Bissau-Guinean footballer
- Tomás Dabó, Bissau-Guinean footballer
- João Jaquité, Bissau-Guinean footballer
- Moía Mané, Bissau-Guinean footballer
- Sori Mané, Bissau-Guinean footballer
- Madi Queta, Bissau-Guinean footballer
- Neemias Queta, Bissau-Guinean basketball player
- Alfa Semedo, footballer
- Sidiki Bakaba, Ivorian actor and filmmaker
- Alpha Blondy, Ivorian (reggae) musician
- Ibrahim Cissé, Ivorian footballer
- Sekou Cissé, Ivorian footballer
- Fousseny Coulibaly, footballer
- Kafoumba Coulibaly, footballer
- Amara Diané
- Siriki Dembélé, Ivorian footballer
- Henriette Diabaté, former Ivorian politician
- Sinaly Diomande, footballer
- Emmanuel Eboué, footballer
- Tiken Jah Fakoly, Ivorian (reggae) musician
- Hassane Kamara, Ivorian Footballer
- Abdul Kader Keïta, Ivorian footballer
- Karim Konaté, Footballer
- Arouna Koné, Ivorian footballer
- Ahmadou Kourouma, Ivorian writer
- Bakari Koné, Ivorian footballer
- Kouadio Koné
- Tiassé Koné, Ivorian footballer
- Habib Maïga, Ivorian footballer
- Alassane Ouattara, Côte d'Ivoire president since 2010[update]; Prime Minister of Côte d'Ivoire, 1990 - 1993
- Guillaume Soro, Ivorian politician
- Kolo Touré, Ivorian footballer
- Sékou Touré Ivorian politician, environmental engineer, former UN Executive
- Yaya Touré, Ivorian footballer
- Lacina Traoré
- Marco Zoro, footballer
- Momolu Dukuly, former Liberian Foreign Minister
- Abu Kamara
- Amara Mohamed Konneh, Minister of Finance
- G. V. Kromah, member of the defunct Liberian Council of State
- Alex Nimely
- Sylvanus Nimely
- Mohammed Sangare
- Ansu Toure
- Soumaila Coulibaly, Malian footballer
- Bako Dagnon, Malian female griot singer
- Cheick Diabaté, Malian footballer
- Massa Makan Diabaté, Malian historian, writer and playwright
- Mamadou Diabate, Malian musician
- Toumani Diabaté, Malian musician
- Yoro Diakité, former Malian Prime Minister
- Fatoumata Diawara, Malian musician
- Fousseni Diawara, Malian footballer
- Daba Diawara, Malian politician
- Aoua Kéita, Malian politician and activist
- Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, President of Mali, September 2013 - August 2020
- Ibrahima Kone
- Ibrahima Konate
- Modibo Keïta, President of Mali from 1960 to 1968
- Salif Keita, Malian musician
- Seydou Keita, Malian footballer
- Sundiata Keita, founder of the Mali Empire
- Amy Koita, Malian musician
- Makan Konaté
- Moussa Kouyate, Malian musician
- Mansa Musa, (c. 1280 – c. 1337), the ninth, especially renowned, Mansa (emperor) of the Mali Empire
- Oumou Sangaré, Malian musician
- Djibril Sidibé, Malian footballer
- Mamady Sidibé, Malian footballer
- Modibo Sidibé, Prime Minister of Mali, 2007 - 2011
- Baba Sissoko, Malian musician
- Mohamed Sissoko, Malian footballer
- Moussa Sissoko
- Almamy Touré
- Amadou Toumani Touré, President of Mali from 2002 to 2012
- Brancou Badio
- Keita Baldé, Senegalese footballer
- Dawda Camara
- Papa Demba Camara, Senegalese footballer
- Aliou Cissé, former Senegalese footballer
- Pape Abou Cissé
- Papiss Demba Cissé, Senegalese footballer
- Elhadj Dabo
- Ibrahima Dabo
- Krépin Diatta, Senegalese footballer
- Souleymane Diawara, Senegalese footballer
- Boukary Dramé, Senegalese footballer
- Lamine Gassama, Senegalese footballer
- Sidiki Kaba, Justice Minister of Senegal
- General Balla Keita, MiNUSCA Force Commander
- Seckou Keita, Senegalese musician
- Moussa Konaté, Senegalese footballer
- Cheikhou Kouyaté, Senegalese footballer
- Sadio Mané, Senegalese footballer
- Moustapha Mbow
- Opa Nguette, Senegalese footballer
- Amadou Onana
- Ludovic Lamine Sané, Senegalese footballer
- Boubakary Soumaré
- Amara Traoré, former Senegalese footballer
- Armand Traoré, former Senegalese footballer
- Aminata Touré, former Prime Minister of Senegal
- Zargo Touré, Senegalese footballer
- Amadou Bakayoko
- Ibrahim Jaffa Condeh, Sierra Leonean journalist and news anchor
- Fode Dabo, former Sierra Leone Ambassador to Belgium, France, Netherlands, Luxemburg and Italy and former High Commissioner to the Gambia.
- Kanji Daramy, journalist and spokesman for former Sierra Leone's president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. He is also the former Chairman of Sierra Leone National Telecommunications Commission
- Mabinty Daramy, current Sierra Leone's Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry
- Mohamed B. Daramy, former minister of Development and Economic Planning from 2002 to 2007, former ECOWAS Commissioner of Income Tax
- Kemoh Fadika, current Sierra Leone's High Commissioner to the Gambia and former High Commissioner to Nigeria, former Ambassador to Egypt and Iran.
- Lansana Fadika, Sierra Leonean businessman and former SLPP chairman for the Western Area. He is the younger brother of Kemoh Fadika
- Bomba Jawara, former MP of Sierra Leone from Koinadugu District (SLPP)
- Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, President of Sierra Leone from 1996 to 2007
- Haja Afsatu Kabba, former Sierra Leone's Minister of Marine Resources and Fisheries; Energy and Power; Lands
- Karamoh Kabba, Sierra Leonean author, writer and journalist
- Mohamed Kakay, former MP of Sierra Leone from Koinadugu District (SLPP)
- Alhaji Kamara
- Kadijatu Kebbay, Sierra Leonean model; Miss University Sierra Leone 2006 winner and represent Sierra Leone at the Miss World 2006 contest
- Brima Keita, Sierra Leonean football manager
- Brima Dawson Kuyateh, journalist and the current president of the Sierra Leone Reporters Union
- Sidique Mansaray, Sierra Leonean footballer
- Tejan Amadu Mansaray, former MP of Sierra Leone representing Koinadugu District (APC)
- Shekuba Saccoh, former Sierra Leone's ambassador to Guinea and former Minister of Social Welfare
- K-Man (born Mohamed Saccoh), Sierra Leonean musician
- Alhaji A. B. Sheriff, former MP from Koinadugu District (SLPP)
- Sheka Tarawalie, Sierra Leonean journalist and former State House Press Secretary to president Koroma. Former Deputy Minister of Information and current Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs.
- Sitta Umaru Turay, Sierra Leonean journalist
- Mo Bamba, professional basketball player
- Martin Delany, abolitionist, journalist, physician and writer (had two Mandinka grandparents brought to America as slaves)
- Bruce Djite, US born professional footballer who played for Australia
- Alex Haley, writer, author of the 1976 book Roots: The Saga of an American Family
- Kunta Kinte, Mandinka warrior captured during the last years of the Atlantic slave trade. He was Alex Haley's ancestor and the key character in Haley's book Roots, and the TV miniseries Roots.
- Gabourey Sidibe, actress
- Foday Musa Suso, griot musician and composer
- Sheck Wes, rapper and professional basketball player.
- This slave trade volume excludes the slave trade by Swahili-Arabs in East Africa and North African ethnic groups to the Middle East and elsewhere. The exports and imports do not match, because of the large number of deaths and violent retaliation by captured people on the ships involved in the slave trade.
- Richard Brent Turner (2003). Islam in the African-American Experience. Indiana University Press. pp. 18–19. ISBN 0-253-21630-3.
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Islam is the predominant religion in Guinea-Bissau practiced by 35.1 percent of the population, compared to 22.1 percent of the population who adhere to the faith of Christianity and 14.9 percent who follow traditional beliefs.
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- David Eltis and David Richardson (2015), Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, 2nd Edition, Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0300212549; Archive: Slave Route Maps Archived 2016-11-22 at the Wayback Machine, see Map 9; The transatlantic slave trade volume over the 350+ years involved an estimated 12.5 million Africans, almost every country that bordered the Atlantic ocean, as well as Mozambique and the Swahili coast.
- Toby Green (2011). The Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, 1300–1589. Cambridge University Press. pp. 37–39, 70. ISBN 978-1-139-50358-7.
- Green (2011). The Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, 1300–1589. pp. 81–83 with footnotes. ISBN 9781139503587.
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- Patricia McKissack; Fredrick McKissack (March 2016). The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay: Life in Medieval Africa. Macmillan. pp. 66–68, 22–23. ISBN 978-1-250-11351-1.
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- Be Somebody... or Be Somebody's Fool! at Youtube
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