The Dioula are a West African people who are most closely associated with Côte d'Ivoire but were also common to Mali, Togo, and other parts of West Africa. The word Dioula, elsewhere Dyula, Djula, and Juula, has several meanings in Mande language and dialects. The most common meaning for the word is “itinerant trader.” At the same time, the term Dioula signifies “Muslim,” and in some cases replaced the word Wangara, which also refers to Mande-speaking Muslims.

The Dioula converted to Islam to strengthen their relationship with Saharan merchants. As early as the 11th century, the Dioula were identified as traders of gold, cloth, and cola nuts in the western Sudan, but their economic enterprises extended to the far reaches of the Muslim world and connected ...

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