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Soninke in Gambia


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Soninke in Gambia map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
230,000 Soninke Islam 0.40 % 0.15 % No   

Soninke in Gambia

People Group Video [7]
Source:  The Waiting WorldWatchDownload
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Introduction / History
One of the first Soninke settlements was established in Ghana around 750 AD. Because of Berber persecution, the Soninke dispersed into small groups within the neighboring regions. The three main offshoots of the Soninke are the Marka, the Nono, and the Aser. Often, these tribes are broken into smaller clans that specialized in various crafts.

Some of the most important Soninke tribes are the Sisse, the Drame, the Sylla, and the Kante. After fleeing to Senegal and Gambia, these groups intermixed with the local Wolof, Serer, and Malinke tribes.

Due to the influence of a large nomadic tribe known as the Fulani, the Soninke have become known as farmers and herdsmen. They speak a Mandingo language called Sarakole (or Soninke). Sarakole is derived from the Mande language, with dialects of Silabe and Marka.

What are their lives like?
The social structure and organization of the Soninke are typical of Mande-related people groups. They are farmers who raise sorghum, rice, peanuts, and their staple crop, millet. They also raise large numbers of goats, sheep, horses, chickens, and cattle. Very little fishing and hunting is done, and trade is extremely important. The Soninke trade in the local markets. They also travel to markets in other regions to trade their goods.

In the past, Soninke men cleared the land and cultivated the crops. The women worked in the gardens. Today, however, they have one of the highest rates of labor migration in West Africa. Much of the male population is absent from the home doing migrant work, which often lasts from two to four years. With the women, old men, and children left behind, a form of matriarchal (female-dominated) society has evolved.

The Soninke live in compact villages, in which homes are built in two distinct styles. One style is round huts with brick walls and thatched roofs. Other houses are rectangular, with brick walls, interior courts, and flat terraced roofs. Houses line both sides of the main street. A mosque is typically located at the village square.

Soninke marriages require the payment of a bride-price. In contrast to most neighboring tribes, the bride-price is given to the bride rather than her parents, and becomes part of her dowry. Pre-marital sexual relations are forbidden. Polygamy (having more than one wife) is generally accepted, with each man being limited to four wives by Islamic law.

In the past, inheritances were passed down from fathers to sons. Today, Muslim rules govern the dispersion of property: one-eighth goes to the widow, while equal shares go to each son, and half shares go to each daughter.

What are their beliefs?
Virtually all of the Soninke are Malikite Muslims. A very small percentage follow a mixture of various tribal animist religions (believe that non-living objects have spirits).

Islam is a major world religion that is based on the teachings of Mohammed, the prophet. The Koran, or holy book of Islam, was said to have been given to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. The Soninke follow the five essential "pillars" or duties of Islam: (1) A Muslim must affirm that "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." (2) Five times a day he must pray while facing Mecca. (3) He must give an obligatory percentage (very similar to tithes) on an annual basis. (4) He must fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. (5) He must try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in his lifetime.

What are their needs?
Among all the Soninke in Gambia, there are only a few known Christians. Those who convert to Christianity are severely persecuted by Muslims; therefore, evangelizing is extremely difficult. Most Soninke have not heard a clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Prayer Points
* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into Gambia to share Christ with the Soninke.
* Ask God to make it possible for the Gospel to be broadcast via radio in their area and in their language.
* Pray that God will give Soninke believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Gambia through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a strong and growing Soninke church for the glory of His name!
* Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.

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The Waiting World - The Soninke
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Country: Gambia
Continent: Africa
Region: Africa, West and Central
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Southeast corner, mainly MacCarthy Island and Upper River divisions. 17 villages.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
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Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Soninke
People Name General: Soninke
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 109413
Joshua Project People ID: 14996
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 230,000
Population all Countries: 2,706,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
People Cluster: Soninke
People Name General: Soninke
Ethnic Code: NAB63j
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Soninke
Language Code (ISO): snk    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity0.40 %(Evangelical: 0.15 %)
Ethnic Religions0.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam99.60 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent20.00 %
Protestant16.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic64.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
GSEC Status:Level 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 2001-2012
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Possible Bible Sources: Forum of Bible Agencies
 World Bible Finder
 World Christian Resource Directory
 Gospel Go
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio RecordingsOral Bible stories in Soninke
Film / VideoGod's Way: 1. Introduction
Film / VideoGod's Way: 11. Allah's Way & the Prophet ...
Film / VideoGod's Way: 7. Musa & the Law
Film / Video / Animation
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Soninke
Film / VideoMy Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Soninke in Gambia

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Soninke     Africa, West and Central    
      Soninke Gambia    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Soninke in Gambia          
      Religion Language  
      Islam     Soninke  
    All Religions                              

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