Maswanka, Kunante in Gambia

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People Name: Maswanka, Kunante
Country: Gambia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 2,500
World Population: 22,500
Primary Language: Mansoanka
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 4.00 %
Evangelicals: 3.21 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Malinke
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Maswanka (aka, Kunante) belong to the Malinke people cluster, an unreached cluster of Sub Saharan Africa. The Maswanka reside primarily in Guinea-Bissau but a smaller number of them live in the north-central region of Gambia, along the border with Senegal. In Gambia, the Maswanka are classified as a Partially Reached people group. They speak Mansoanka, a language of the Niger-Congo language family.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Maswanka live in extended family compounds, each consisting of a cluster of huts usually arranged in a circle around an open space. The huts are usually round with mud walls and cone-shaped, thatched roofs. Often the entire compound is surrounded by a fence, hedge, or wall. The compounds usually adjoin to form compact villages. A chief exercises political authority in each village. Like most of the people in West Africa, the Maswanka are assumed to be farmers, using very basic tools to grow a variety of crops. Staple foods of the region include maize, manioc, and rice, supplemented with squash, melons, sweet potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes. Major tree crops include bananas, coconuts, mangoes, and papayas. The Maswanka raise cattle, sheep, and goats, but do not use their milk. Dogs and chickens are common in Maswanka villages. The women gather wild fruits and roots, berries, and kola, shea, and palm nuts and help with the agriculture; the men hunt, fish, clear the land, and tend the cattle. Family succession usually passes to the next brother or to the oldest son of the deceased's oldest sister. The Maswanka practice an initiation ceremony when children reach puberty. This ceremony includes circumcision of boys and sometimes a twisted version of circumcision for girls, as well as a period of instruction in an isolated "bush school" where they learn certain practical skills. The Maswanka prefer cousins as marriage partners. The groom must pay a bride-price in livestock; often, premarital bride-service is also required. Occasionally, a man will have more than one wife; in such cases, each wife has her own hut, and the husband spends a fixed period with each on a rotation basis.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The majority of Maswanka practice Sunni Islam, likely mixed with traditional animistic beliefs. In Gambia, a higher percentage are Christians than in neighboring Guinea-Bissau, where most of the Maswanka reside.

What Are Their Needs?

Scripture portions, the JESUS Film, and some audio gospel recordings are available in Mansoanka. They need leadership and discipleship materials to further the growth of the Church.

Prayer Points

Ask God to call intercessors who will commit themselves to stand in the gap for the Maswanka long term. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send additional laborers to work among the Maswanka and to anoint the efforts of mission agencies focusing on this people. Pray for the translation of the complete Bible into the Mansoanka language. Ask God to launch a Disciple Making Movement among the Maswanka in Gambia that will spread to the less-reached Maswanka in Guinea-Bissau.

Text Source:   Joshua Project