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The Susu people are a Mande ethnic group living primarily in Guinea and Northwestern Sierra Leone, particularly in Kambia District. Influential in Guinea, smaller communities of Susu people are also found in the neighboring Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Guinea Bissau||5,600[unreliable source]|
|Susu, French, English|
|Predominantly Sunni Islam|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Mandé peoples, especially the Yalunka people, Soninke people, Mikhifore people, Kuranko people, and Mandinka people|
The Susu are a patrilineal society, predominantly Muslim, who favor endogamous cross-cousin marriages with polygynous households. They have a caste system like all Manding-speaking peoples of West Africa. The artisans such as smiths, carpenters, musicians, jewelers, and leatherworkers are separate castes and believed to have descended from the medieval era of slavery.
The Susu people are also referred to as Soosoo, Sossoé, Sosoe, Sosso, Soso, Sousou, Susso, Sussu, or Soussou.
Demographics and languageEdit
Their language, called Sosoxui by native speakers, serves as a major trade language along the Guinean coast, particularly in its southwest, including the capital city of Conakry. It belongs to the Niger-Congo family of languages.
The meaning of the name "Soso or Susu" apparently derived from "Susuwi," meaning "horse" or "horseman" in the Susu language. The terms "Sawsaws," "Souses," and "Sussias" are all English corruptions of "Susu," rarer variants of their name are also encountered such as Souzo, Sossé, Suzées, Socé, Caxi, Saxi, Saxe, and even as Sexi.
The Susu are descendants of their Manding ancestors who lived in the mountainous Mali-Guinea border. They are said to have originally been a section of the Soninke people that migrated out of Wagadou and were initially a clan of blacksmiths who displayed their clear intentions to object converting to Islam. In the twelfth century, when Ancient Ghana was in decline, they migrated south and established a capital city of Soso in the mountainous region of Koulikoro. The Susu were once ruled by Sumanguru Kanté, but after that, they were ruled by the thirteenth century Mali Empire. In the fifteenth century, they migrated west to the Fouta Djallon plateau of Guinea, as the Mali empire disintegrated.The close familiarity with the Yalunka people suggest a hypothesis that they were once members of the same group in the Fouta Djallon, separated by Fula invaders, and that the Susu moved southward absorbing other people in the process. The Susu people were traditionally animist.
The Fula people dominated the region from the Fouta Djallon. The Fulani created an Islamic theocracy, thereafter began slave raids as a part of Jihad that impacted many West African ethnic groups including the Susu people. In particular, states Ismail Rashid, the Jihad effort of Fulani elites starting in the 1720s theologically justified enslavement of the non-Islamic people and also led to successful conversion of previously animist peoples to Islam. The political environment led the Susu people to convert to Islam in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, along with further westward and southward migration towards the plains of Guinea.
The colonial-era Europeans arrived in the Guinea region of resident Susu people in the late eighteenth century for trade, but got politically involved during the era of Temne wars that attacked the Susu people along with other ethnic groups. While Temne sought British support, the Susu sought the French. The region split, with Temne speaking Sierra Leone regions going with the British colonial empire, and Susu speaking Guinea regions becoming a part of the French colonial empire in the late nineteenth century during the Scramble for Africa.
Society and cultureEdit
The Susu live with their extended family. Polygyny is an accepted practice since Islamic law allows men to have as many as four wives. This is not always practiced because having multiple wives requires more means than most men have. The men provide for their families by working the rice fields, fishing, or engaging in trade. The women cook the food and take care of the children. They often engage in small commerce, usually of vegetables they have raised in their garden. Often women will have their room or hut next to their husband's lodging where they will stay with their children.
Over 99% of Susu are Muslim, and Islam dominates their religious culture and practices. Most Islamic holidays are observed, the most important being the celebration that follows Ramadan (a month of prayer and fasting). The Susu people, like other Manding-speaking peoples, have a caste system regionally referred to by terms such as Nyamakala, Naxamala and Galabbolalauba. According to David Conrad and Barbara Frank, the terms and social categories in this caste-based social stratification system of Susu people shows cases of borrowing from Arabic only, but the likelihood is that these terms are linked to Latin, Greek or Aramaic.
The artisans among the Susu people, such as smiths, carpenters, musicians, and bards (Yeliba), jewelers, and leatherworkers, are separate castes. The Susu people believe that these castes have descended from the medieval era slaves. The Susu castes are not limited to Guinea, but are found in other regions where Susu people live, such as in Sierra Leone where too they are linked to the historic slavery system that existed in the region, states Daniel Harmon. The Susu castes in the regional Muslim communities were prevalent and recorded by sociologists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Some Susu combine their Islamic faith with traditional beliefs, such as the existence of spirits who inhabit certain areas, and the belief in sorcerers who have the power to change into animals, cast evil spells on people, or heal people from certain ailments.
The Susu are primarily farmers, with rice and millet being their two principal crops. Mangoes, pineapples, and coconuts are also grown. The women make various kinds of palm oil from palm nuts. Ancient Susu houses were typically made of either mud or cement blocks, depending on the resources available.
Some common Susu surnames
- Sylla or Sillah
- Sakho (Sacko by deformation)
Notable Susu peopleEdit
- Elhadj Aly Jamal Bangoura, current Secretary General of Religious Affairs of Guinea
- Fodé Bangoura, Guinean politician and former Minister Secretary General to President Lansana Conté
- Hadja Mafory Bangoura, was a radical activist for the independence of Guinea
- Karim Bangoura, Guinean diplomat
- Kiridi Bangoura, current Minister Secretary General to President Alpha Condé
- Mahawa Bangoura, Guinean diplomat
- Mohamed Saloum Bangoura, current Deputy Director General of the Armed Forces Health Service of Guinea
- Abdoul Kabèlè Camara, Guinean politician
- Arafan Camara, Guinean politician
- Makalé Camara, Guinean diplomat
- Manga Kindi Camara, was the founder of Kindia
- M'Balia Camara, Guinean independence activist
- Sikhé Camara, Guinean diplomat
- Zeinab Camara, Guinean politician
- Lansana Conté, former president of Guinea from 1984 to 2008
- Seydou Conté, Guinean diplomat
- Abdulai Conteh, former Vice president of Sierra Leone
- Kandeh Baba Conteh, Sierra Leonean politician
- Ahmed Ramadan Dumbuya, Sierra Leonean politician
- Dala Modu Dumbuya, was an Important Sierra Leonean-Susu trader during the colonial era
- Facinet Fofana, former Minister of Energy, Mines, and Geology of Guinea
- Ibrahima Kassory Fofana, current Prime Minister of Guinea
- Mohamed Said Fofana, former Prime Minister of Guinea
- Hadja Saran Daraba Kaba, Guinean activist
- Ibrahima Khalil Kaba, current Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guinea
- Soumaoro Kanté, was a Thirteenth-century king of the Sosso Empire
- Domin Konteh, was the leader of the earliest wave of Soso migrants into present-day Sierra Leone
- Elhadj Sékhouna Soumah
- Fodé Soumah, Guinean politician
- Sam Mamady Soumah, Guinean politician
- Foday Sumah, Sierra Leonean diplomat
- Mahawa Sylla, first female general of the Guinean army
- Fodé Tarawally, was a Nineteenth century Soso Islamic leader
- Soumba Toumany, was a Soso elephant hunter and founded the Kingdom of Dubréka
- Facinet Touré, Guinean politician and former soldier of the French colonial army
- Fodé Katibi Touré, founder of Moriah in Forécariah
- Kémoko Touré, Guinean politician
- Sidya Touré, Guinean politician
- Kerfalla Yansané, current Ambassador of Guinea to the United States
- Sékou Mouké Yansané, Guinean diplomat
- Osman Foday Yansaneh, Sierra Leonean politician
- Mamady Youla, former prime minister of Guinea from 2015 to 2018
- Nabi Youla, Guinean diplomat
- Kandeh Yumkella, Sierra Leonean politician
- Mohamed Foday Yumkella, Sierra Leonean politician
- Alhassane Bangoura, Guinean footballer
- Alkhaly Bangoura, Guinean footballer
- Ibrahima Bangoura, former Guinean footballer
- Ismaël Bangoura, former Guinean footballer
- Ismaël Karba Bangoura, Guinean footballer
- Mamadama Bangoura, Guinean judoka
- Mamadouba Bangoura, Guinean footballer
- Mohamed Bangoura, Guinean footballer
- Momar Bangoura, French footballer
- Ousmane Bangoura, former Guinean footballer
- Sambégou Bangoura, former Guinean footballer
- Abdoul Camara, former Guinean footballer
- Abou Mangué Camara, Guinean footballer
- Alsény Camara, Guinean footballer
- Aguibou Camara, Guinean footballer
- Ibrahima Sory Camara, former Guinean footballer
- Kémoko Camara, former Guinean footballer
- Mady Camara, Guinean footballer
- Naby Camara, Guinean footballer
- Ousmane N'Gom Camara, former Guinean footballer
- Papa Camara, former Guinean footballer
- Souleymane Camara, former Senegalese footballer
- Titi Camara, former Guinean footballer
- Abdoulaye Cissé, Guinean footballer
- Ibrahima Sory Conté, Guinean footballer
- Sekou Doumbouya, Guinean basketball player
- Boubacar Fofana, Guinean footballer
- Sory Kaba, Guinean footballer
- Ibrahima Sory Sankhon, Guinean footballer
- Chérif Souleymane, former Guinean footballer
- Alhassane Soumah, Guinean footballer
- Mohamed Lamine Soumah, Guinean footballer
- M'mah Soumah, Guinean judoka
- Morlaye Soumah, former Guinean footballer
- Naby Soumah, former Guinean footballer
- Seydouba Soumah, Guinean footballer
- Soriba Soumah, former Guinean footballer
- Abubakar Suma, Sierra Leonean footballer
- Sheriff Suma, former Sierra Leonean footballer
- Abdoul Karim Sylla, former Guinean footballer
- Idrissa Sylla, Guinean footballer
- Issiaga Sylla, Guinean footballer
- Kanfory Sylla, former Guinean footballer
- Mohamed Lamine Sylla, former Guinean footballer
- Mohamed Ofei Sylla, former Guinean footballer
- Momo Sylla, former Guinean footballer
- Morciré Sylla, former Guinean footballer
- Morlaye Sylla, Guinean footballer
- Djibril Fandjé Touré, Guinean footballer
- Momo Fanyé Touré, Guinean footballer
- Sylla M'Mah Touré, Guinean sprinter
- Sékou Oumar Yansané, Guinean footballer
- Ibrahima Yattara, former Guinean footballer
- Mohamed Yattara, Guinean footballer
- Naby Yattara, former Guinean footballer
- Souleymane Youla, former Guinean footballer
- King Alasko, Guinean musician
- Fodé Seydou Bangoura, Guinean drummer
- Mohamed Bangoura, Guinean drummer
- Yaya Bangoura, Guinean musician
- Soul Bang's, Guinean musician
- Bangoura Batafon, Guinean musician
- Doudou Benny, Guinean musician
- Lévi Bobo, Guinean musician
- Merlin Boy, Guinean musician
- Mousto Camara, Guinean musician
- Natu Camara, Guinean musician
- N'nato Camara, Guinean musician
- Hamid Chanana, Guinean musician
- Daddi Cool, Guinean-reggae musician
- Fodé Conté, Guinean musician
- Ousmane Söty Daffé, Guinean musician
- King Détruit, Guinean musician
- Mohamed Django, Guinean musician
- Lasso Doumbouya, Guinean musician
- Fish Killa, Guinean musician
- Bouba Menguè, Guinean musician
- Navgator, Guinean musician
- Lil Sacko, Guinean musician
- Bill de Sam, Guinean musician
- Abraham Sonty, Guinean musician
- Alphonse Soumah, Guinean musician
- Armand Soumah, Guinean musician
- Djibril Soumah, Guinean musician
- Momo Wandel Soumah, Guinean composer
- Toumany Z Sparta, Guinean musician
- Aly Sylla, Guinean musician
- Maciré Sylla, Guinean musician
- Ablos Touré, Guinean musician
- Macheté Touré, Guinean musician
- Yarie Touré, Guinean musician
- Alpha Wess, Guinean-reggae musician
- Jack Woumpack, Guinean musician
- Fodé Abass Yansané, Guinean musician
- Takana Zion, Guinean-reggae musician
- Harry Yansaneh, Sierra Leonean journalist
Other notable peopleEdit
- Lappé Bangoura, Guinean football coach
- Mohamed Bentoura Bangoura
- Kerfalla Person Camara, Guinean entrepreneur
- Ousmane Conté, Lansana Conté's son
- "Sierra Leone 2015 Population and Housing Census National Analytical Report" (PDF). Statistics Sierra Leone. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
- "Susu in Senegal". Joshua Project. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
- "Susu in Guinea Bissau". Joshua Project. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
- Susu people, Encyclopædia Britannica
- Bankole Kamara Taylor (2014). Sierra Leone: The Land, Its People and History. New Africa Pres. p. 147. ISBN 978-9987-16-038-9.
- Tal Tamari (1991). "The Development of Caste Systems in West Africa". The Journal of African History. Cambridge University Press. 32 (2): 221–250. doi:10.1017/s0021853700025718. JSTOR 182616.
- Susu: A language of Guinea, Ethnologue
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- Sean Kelley (2016). The Voyage of the Slave Ship Hare: A Journey Into Captivity from Sierra Leone to South Carolina. University of North Carolina Press. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-4696-2769-4.
- David Henige (1994). History in Africa, Volume 21. African Studies Association. p. 21.
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- Ofosuwa Abiola (2018). History Dances: Chronicling the History of Traditional Mandinka Dance. Routledge, 2018. ISBN 978-0-4297-6784-5.
- Eric Charry (2000). Mande Music: Traditional and Modern Music of the Maninka and Mandinka of Western Africa. University of Chicago Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-226-10161-3.
- Harold D. Nelson (1975). Encyclopedia of African Peoples. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 62.
- Ramon Sarro (2008). Politics of Religious Change on the Upper Guinea Coast: Iconoclasm Done and Undone. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 27–29. ISBN 978-0-7486-3666-2.
- David Robinson (2010). Les sociétés musulmanes africaines: configurations et trajectoires historiques (in French). Karthala, Paris. pp. 105–111. ISBN 978-2-8111-0382-8.
- Jonathan M. Bloom; Sheila S. Blair (2009). The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture. Oxford University Press. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-19-530991-1.
- Ismail Rashid (2003). Sylviane A. Diouf (ed.). Fighting the Slave Trade: West African Strategies. Ohio University Press. pp. 133–135. ISBN 978-0-8214-1517-7.
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- Alexander Keese (2015). Ethnicity and the Colonial State: Finding and Representing Group Identifications in a Coastal West African and Global Perspective (1850–1960). BRILL Academic. pp. 15, 164–183, 300–301. ISBN 978-90-04-30735-3.
- David C. Conrad; Barbara E. Frank (1995). Status and Identity in West Africa: Nyamakalaw of Mande. Indiana University Press. pp. 78–80, 73–82. ISBN 0-253-11264-8.
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