The Soninke tribe is an ethnic group of people residing in Senegal, Mali, and Guinea with extended clans in Gambia, and Mauritania; West African regions.
They are among the Mende speaking people with Soninke or Maraka language which among the Mende language family. They are mainly Muslims, after the invasion of Moroccan Almoravid Empire in 1066 C.E.
Soninke people are believed to have birthed the earliest Ghana Empire as they control the major part of the Trans-Saharan trade link in Africa and that made them the largest trading dynasty in West Africa around 750-1240 C.E.
The Soninke empire operates on a hierarchical government whereby each position held in the empire is been transferred to the person by the parent. The kingdom is being ruled by a King whose power is under check by the Nobles of the empire’s system of government.
They are mainly farmers who operate on migrant farming in the sense that men would leave the house during the time of planting nor harvesting and work as laborers for some periods of time while their women stay at home to cook and take care of the children. They plant major crops like cocoa, yam, maize, cotton, and others.
The Soninke performs a circumcision rite in which they call the Birou. The circumcision happens annually in which the boys to be circumcised would all sit around the Tambour while others form a round circle before the ritual goes on.
They also practice Female genital mutilation which symbolizes the social acceptance of the ladies into the community, although it is illegal to carry out the female genital mutilation in Mauritania and Senegal it is culturally still welcomed just to uphold and retain the Soninke tradition.
They practice Islamic marriage and they also believe cousins can marry themselves. After both families of the bride and the groom agrees on the union, the couple would be engaged in the mosque and the man is expected to pay a dower monthly to the bride’s family.
The marriage union is never complete without the dower which after the wedding festival they call Karikompe proceeds.
The couple is given advisors (Khoussoumanta-yougo is the groom’s advisor) while (Khoussoumanta-yakhare).
Also, it is believed to be a taboo for a marriage between a freeborn and a slave except for a polygamous family where the man is free to take a slave as a wife.