Bambara Home Page
Group Members: Meghan Murnane, Michelle Rainaldi, Andrew Kotila, Shanaya Thomas-Williams, Lauren Hartgers & Alyssa Fox
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The Bambara are the largest living population in Mali. In 1995, there was an estimated 2,700,000 people living in the country of Mali in West Africa. Most of the Bambana villages are located along both sides of the Niger River.

The Bambara people speak Bamana, the national language of Mali. Bamana is spoken by about 80% if the people in the country. The Bambara call themselves “Bamanan,” which means “rejection of a master.” This title is indicative of the history of the Bambara people’s struggle for independence.

Bambara society is patrilineal, which means people live in villages with their father’s relatives. Villages are made up of their paternal extended families. Within these villages, there are numerous different households. Members of each household work together to provide for all people living in that household.

The Bambara people rely heavily on farming, and harvest a relatively large variety of local foods. A small section of the population generates income from trade and craft-making. While both men and women work hard everyday to provide for the household, the roles of both are very gender-specific.

The political organization of the Bambara divides the population into three social levels (similar to a caste system). These levels are nobles (horon), slaves (jon) and occupational specialists (nyamakala).

Most Bambara today consider themselves to be Muslims. However, their traditional beliefs incorporated heavy reliance on ancestor spirits. Many people today still pray and worship these ancestor spirits both individually, at home and as a village.
(*all information from this page from Adem)


Please click on the links below to learn more about the Bambara people of Mali:
Location, Environment and Population
Language and History of the Language
Traditional and Contemporary Adaptive Strategies
Traditional and Contemporary Political Organizations
Family Structure, Kinship and Marriage
Gender and Sexual Orientation
Religious Practices and Changes Over Time
Effects of Colonialism and the World System
Contemporary Issues
Important Environmental Issues
Art in Bambara Culture
Bibliography