Introduction / History The Soninke are a people spread across at least seven countries in West Africa. They are primarily agriculturalists growing millet, rice, corn, peanuts and vegetables. They live in mud brick houses with flat roofs grouped together in enclosed compounds.
Historically, the Soninke are traders and travelers. With the increasing difficulty of farming resulting from the desertification of the land and since French colonialization, the Soninke have turned increasingly to travel and work outside of the area. Consequently, they have maintained an above average standard of living and are known to be relatively rich. In spite of being so well traveled, the Soninke have held fast to their traditional ways.
Economically, the Soninke are having to find new sources of income with the increasing difficulties in farming. Health care is a great need. Spiritually, the Soninke are known to be virtually all Muslim, although traditional beliefs are usually held alongside those of Islam. There are only 2 or 3 believers reported in Mali.