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All expressions of African religion rely on initiation. The dyow initiation of the Bamana (sometimes called Bambara) people follows a pattern found throughout the continent. Dyow initiation is a major part of being a Bamana. Situated presently in Mali, the Bamana are one of the most widespread ethnic groups in Western Africa. Two important regions, Kaarta and Segu, are formidable city-states that were established in the 17th century and have continued to influence the social, political, and economic direction of Mali and the rest of West Africa.

Bamana culture is quite complex. Although Islamic neighbors surround them, the tendency of the Bamana people is to advance their traditional culture over all others. Thus, the syncretism that one finds in the Bamana area is a result of ...

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