The New International Encyclopædia/Mandingo

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MANDINGO (native name, Mande-nga). An extensive linguistic group of negroes more or less mixed with Hamites, dwelling in Western Africa from the Senegal and Upper Niger to Monrovia, and numbering many millions. Physically they are spare and athletic; height, 1,700 millimeters or 67 inches; the cranial index or proportion of head width to head length is 75.5-78.8. They frequently have aquiline noses and features distinct from the negro, though the hair is woolly. In their food, dress, and habitations they are far above savagery, and, under Arab teachers, have attained a certain degree of culture. The speech, called Mandi, is widespread, and divided into many dialects, encircling Timbuktu and enroaching on Fulah and Hausa. About seven hundred years ago the Empire of Mali was founded by the ancestors of this people in the Upper Niger region, and under King Musa (1311-31) it covered the Gambia and Joliba basins. The Upper Niger tribes still call themselves Mali’-nke. In religion they are Mohammedan, having embraced that faith centuries ago and propagated it with great vigor. The Mandingos were divided into numberless tribes, each speaking its own dialect, and, through their lack of cohesion, they were conquered about 1500 by the Sonrhay. The English planted factories among them in 1618, but the expeditions into the Niger country ended in disaster. The French in the next century cut off the progress of the English. In 1862 the Gambia Mandingos waged a propaganda for Islam in which hundreds of settlements of pagan tribes on the Gambia were laid waste.