glossary

The so called Malinkés or Mandingoes are generally Muslim, having abandoned earlier Pantheist beliefs; they constituted a significant social group in Africa before their arrival to America as slaves. They were the founders of the old Mali Empire, located at the moment in French Sudan; they formed the most powerful state of Western Africa between 1240 and the XVI century during the reign of Musa Bellwether (1312-1327).

Malinkés or Mandingoes were partially converted to Islam by the Fula or Fulani (an ethnic group of black Arabicized people spread over many countries in Western Africa) and, due to this, a rich empire was formed under the interchange of cultural and religious beliefs between African Arabs.

Historical aspects, as the one above, influenced powerfully in the religious and cultural product of the Afro-Arabic mixture that equipped the Malinkés or Mandingoes with numerous acquaintances that were subject under the ancestral common property of two worlds. This particular characterization of the inhabitants of the tribe Malinké was the one that came to America as Mandingo African slaves.

Once already in the New World, this racial group (unlike the other originating tribes of the diverse territories of Africa) was much feared because they had the infamy of being great wizards, as well as being rebellious against the owners of the plantations. Thus, this reaffirmed that they were transgressors of the law of the white people. This is why the Mandingoes were also known in the New World as “Mandingas,” and the name of this tribe became associated with very strong witchcraft spells of black magic, this is why later on the word “Mandingo or Mandinga” happened to be associated with witchcraft and became synonymous with “witches” and “devils.”

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