The Minianka primarily inhabit in the southeast of Mali, bordering the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, where the Senufo, a people of which they are brothers, are located.northeastern Côte d’Ivoire and southern Mali. They speak Senufo, a Niger-Congo language, and are generally considered a Senufo subgroup. Approximately 400,000 people consider themselves Minianka.
The Miniankas have largely been subsumed by the Senufos. In fact, today they are the northernmost extensión of the Senufos. Their traditional homeland was near the Bani River in northern Ivory Coast, southern Mali, and southern Burkino-Faso. They were overwhelmed culturally by the northern migration of the Senufos, and, by the end of the nineteenth century, the Miniankas were part of the Kingdom of Kenedougou, a Senufo state. The arrival of the French empire dissolved the kingdom.
Although today this name has already been accepted to define the group, they called themselves Bamana, that is, "people of the crocodile" or, also, "people refractory to all power". It is curious that this same name of Bamana is used also to explain the meaning of Bambara, under whose power they were subjected in a servile condition during the existence of the Segu empire, founded in the 18th century.
The name of Minianka seems to come from Amena Ke, which means "men have lasted a long time", referring to the fact that they have been there for a long time; in fact, they are one of the oldest populations in the area.
The artificial drawing of borders determined by colonization separated both peoples with evident cultural affinities. Their way of political life has been based on autonomous cells, rejecting any larger-scale organization, although they briefly knew this experience when they participated in the founding of the state of Kenedugu, in the surroundings of Sikasso, or in that of Ganadugu, which lasted twenty years. years.
Unity among themselves has not been very strong either, seeing themselves involved in dissensions and confrontations that have weakened them and placed them at the mercy of other groups that imposed their hegemony on them, especially throughout the 19th century, when there were various attempts to politically reorganize all of western Sudan by Muslim leaders who claimed to control the entire Sahelian zone.
Society has its basic foundation in the clan that is led by the oldest. The villages have their maximum authority in the "owner of the town" who is chosen among the descendants of the founder of the latter. He also holds religious powers and is surrounded by a great council made up of the heads of the most important families. He is responsible for the distribution of land, the presidency of ritual ceremonies, vigilance for the maintenance of traditional customs, and so on.
Among the Minianka there is no absolute power that can act as it pleases, since society moves within a system of traditions, norms and secret societies that prevent anyone from having absolute control. The hierarchization and the game of the various existing powers avoid any concentration of power. This is distributed among the family, the neighborhood and the village with clearly defined functions. In addition, most of them form part of suprafamilial religious groups that are more or less influential depending on the power of their spirits and fetishes.
Religion, typically animistic, professes the belief in a God, Supreme, Creator and lord of life. He has created a whole world of invisible forces, or spirits, which are the ones that really intervene in the lives of men. They must know their properties to control them and make them conducive to their intentions through special rites.
Tradition tells that the Supreme God granted men conscience, order and purity, as well as a sense of responsibility. He also provided them with the art of weaving and speaking to help them develop their culture.
The spirits of the ancestors have a special role. They are the link between the whole town and the afterlife. Following its traditional model and legacy is a guarantee of survival; that is why Sacrifices and offerings are offered to them.
Today, the Miniankas are primarily small farmers living among the Senufos; their population probably exceeds 250,000 people. The Miniankas living near Koutiala in Mali are commercial farmers who raise cotton as a cash crop.
Most Miniankas have resisted convers onto Islam, preferring their own indigenous faith.
The Minianka speak Senufo, a Niger-Congo language, and are generally considered a Senufo subgroup. Approximately 400,000 people consider themselves Minianka.
Minyanka (also known as Mamara, Miniyanka, Minya, Mianka, Minianka, or Tupiire) is a northern Senufo language spoken by about 750,000 people in southeastern Mali. It is closely related to Supyire. Minyanka is one of the national languages of Mali.