The Mandingo tribe of West Africa has descended from the Mali Empire. This empire flourished under the rule of King Sundiata Keita. Today, the Mandingo tribe is not only the most widespread tribe in Western Africa, it also the most dominant ethno linguistic group. The tribe has many sub tribes like the Mande, Dyula, Bozo and Bambara.
According to historians, the tribe migrated into the heart of West Africa from the western side of Niger River. They were the original settlers of the city of Djenne-Jeno. This migration took place because the tribe wanted more fertile agricultural land and also wanted to expand its territory. The ancient Mandingo tribe found the army of Kingdom of Fouta Djallon to stake claim to the land. On settling down, nearly half of the tribe members converted to Islam. They showed no resistance to giving up their beliefs and embracing Islam.
The tribe lived in peace and harmony until slavery started. The westerners who came to West Africa were looking for people who were subservient and this quality was seen in the members of Mandingo tribe. From the start of the 16th century till the 18th century, Mandingo tribe was taken as slaves to many other countries and continents, including New World. This would explain why today the US has a sizable Mandingo tribe population.
In modern times, the tribe is concentrated in West Africa, in countries like Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania. The tribe is still very family centric and wants to self-rule themselves and have autonomy. They are still involved in agriculture and grow rice, groundnut and millet, crops that are traded.
However, the tribe members are also into other professions like driving, carpentry, blacksmithing, tailoring and butchering. The society is patriarchal in nature with an elder being the chieftain of the tribe. Mandingo women are usually homemakers and do not contribute to the family income.