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The Bamana people belong to the Mande group and can be found primarily in Mali. However, sizable Bamana communities also exist in neighboring West African countries, in particular, in Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Senegal. There are about 2 million Bamana, making them one of the largest Mande subgroups, as well as the dominant ethnic group in Mali, where about 80% of the population speak the Bamana language. The Bamana, as they call themselves, are often referred to as Bambara, which is likely an inaccurate rendition on the part of the French of Bamana. This entry looks at their history and social organization, and then it turns to their religion and ritual.

History and Social Life

The Bamana emerged as a distinct Mande group when the Songhay empire ...

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