A Comparison between the Maasai of Kenya and the Mandinka of Sierra Leorne

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A Comparison between the Maasai of Kenya and the Mandinka of Sierra Leorne






A Comparison between the Maasai of Kenya and the Mandinka of Sierra Leone


The world is made up of people who are different in their races, ethnicity and their culture. They have their own unique way of doing things being guided by the power of their culture, which provides values and beliefs meant to provide a code of conduct and the group solidarity. The following discussion will focus on the cultural practices of two ethnic groups in Africa.


Ethnic composition and dynamics of Mandinka Ethnic group of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa with about twenty ethnic groups. One of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa that is going to be considered in this discussion is Mandinka. They are said to have a population of eleven million and are found in other countries such as Gambia and Guinea. They migrated from the River Niger basin in their quest of fertile land to agriculture (Nicholls 67). It is said that due to many conflicts with Fula community, majority of the Mandinka people were converted to Muslims while about a third were sold to America as slaves.

The communities of Mandinka are said to have been situated along the long distance trade routes. This was done so for the purpose of exchanging their agricultural products with other goods such as gold that came from Bambouk community from the northern area.

Traditional Marriage Processes

Marriage is one of the most social institutions which has an aim of ensuring the continuation of the community through child bearing. A man could not be regarded and accorded the required respect unless they married and got children. It is said that in the Mandinka people, marriage is arranged by the family members rather than the bride and the groom. The parents of the groom have the responsibility to propose to the parents of the bride and express their intension of establishing a lasting relationship with them through marriage. This practice is in contrary with the contemporary societies where the groom is expected to propose to the bride, go through the courtship process before marrying.

The parents of the groom send Kola nuts to the elders of the spotted bride as a sign that they are interested in having their daughter (Nicholls 78). The elders are expected to scrutinize a number of factors before agreeing to give away the bride. These include wealth and responsibility. The man had to prove that he was in a position to take care of the bride in terms of feeding and clothing her including taking care of the children. The man had also to demonstrate hard work and wisdom that is required to lead a successful family. Once everything was okay, the elders would accept the Kola nuts, a sign that they had authorized a courtship between the bride and the groom.

The lady to be married among the Mandinka people must exhibit certain qualities. One of the most important factor is that they must be fertile, in the that they must give birth. The status of a man in the society was determined by the number of children that they had. Therefore, no man would have wished to marry a barren wife for the fear of becoming a disgrace in the society by failing to fulfill the main obligations which was procreation for the purpose of community expansion.

Ladies were also expected to show reverence to their men. They were submissive and did not question what they were asked to do. A man was known to have control over his house if his wife could demonstrate respect especially in front of his guests.

Polygamy is said to be a dominant practice among the Mandinka community. A man can marry up to four wives provided that he is able to cater for all their needs and treat them equally. The eldest wife is said to have authority over the subsequent ones. The wives are expected to live in harmony and share the duties in the house. Finally, sons were very valued and any man looked forward to having a wife whom they thought would produce sons. They gave them a sense of pride

Religious Practices

The Mandinka people have been predominantly religious. They used to practice the traditional forms of worship where they believed in the existence of supernatural powers. The community was led to worship and offering of sacrifices by their elders who were thought to be holy and closer to gods than the ordinary people. They also believed in the power of witchcraft and many people practiced it together with magic. This was done especially when one was trying to avoid competition from other members of the society, and therefore the practice was done to make them fear accumulating resources. Witchcraft was also important in the fact that it regulated the behavior of people. For the fear of being bewitched, the society was orderly in that no one could still other people’s properties or become rude to any.

It is said that today about 99% of the Mandinka people are predominantly muslims. This is owing to the fact that most of them were converted during the religious conflicts. Apart from this, many of them still practice animism. This is the spiritual belief that other things such as mountains, trees and rocks have souls and supernatural powers and they were therefore worshipped.

They have the ability to recite the Qu’ran in Arabic and everyone from young to the old are expected to do that. Marabout who is a religious leader, is believed to have power to control the spirits especially the evil ones which could haunt the society. He write the Qu’ranic verses on papers, which are then sewed on leather pouches. They are eventually worn by the Mandinka society as amulets that would protect them from any evil powers.

Art and craft and artistic expressions

The Mandinka people are known to be rich in their traditions and the expression of their culture. They are said to socialize their members orally through the use of music, Proverbs and stories (Charry 67).These were mostly done to the children for the purpose of teaching them about their cultures. The culture is said to be passed by Griot, who is a prolific poet and a singer. This is a person who new how to combine words in a professional way to produce songs and poems that appealed to the audience.

The Mandinka people are also known to be artistic in the fact that they were famous for their drumming techniques (Charry 98). This took place especially in commemoration of specific events and also in celebration of certain transitional stages in life.

They are also known to make a unique musical instrument known as the Kora , which is a twenty-one-stringed musical instrument that resembles a guitar. It is made up of.............

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