The Bambara are a Mande-speaking people located mostly in Mali, West Africa. They live in nucleated village communities and most Bambara earn their living cultivating a variety of crops and raising domesticated animals. Many augment their income by participating in a variety of non-agricultural activities including trade, wage labor, and small-scale craft production.
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Africa --Western Africa
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Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.
The Bambara collection consists of 12 documents, including this culture summary, covering information on two main time periods: 1910-1950s and 1988-2003. Materials on the first period consist of four books translated from French. The earliest of these books are by a French Roman Catholic missionary (Henry, 1910, no.4) and a colonial administrator (Monteil, 1924, no. 2) who had lived among the Bambara from around 1900 to 1923. Henry (1910, no.4) discusses Bambara psychology and religion through broader explorations into their ideas on human life, taboos, animism, cults, sacrifices, and ceremonials relating to circumcision, marriage and funerals, while Monteil (1924, no. 2) focuses on history and administrative practices with particular emphasis on functions of age-groups, religious cults, secret societies and territorial lineages. Both of these authors occasionally characterize the Bambara using strongly negative stereotypes that seem highly colored by their own respective religious and political views. Comprehensive ethnographic information on Bambara culture and society will be found in the remaining two books, Dieterlen (1951, no.1) and Paques (1954, no. 3), both of them professional French ethnographers with extensive field work experience in the region. Materials on the second period focus on Bambara economy and household dynamics. Toulmin (1992, no.7) and Becker (1996, no.7) discuss the constraints and opportunities different household heads encounter in attempting to enhance their access to key productive resources (land, labor and capital in the form of cattle and cash). Wooten (2003, no.5), Becker (2000, no. 6) and Grosz Ngate (1988, no. 9 and 1989, no. 8) examine the impacts of increasing commoditization of rural economy on household food security, gender and intra-household relations.
DIAOLA (traveling merchants) - use RETAIL MARKETING (443)
DUTIGI (household heads - use HOUSEHOLD HEADS (592)
DYO (organized religious societies) – use CONGREGATIONS (794)
FA (lineage segments) – use LINEAGES (613)
FOROBA ('big field' jointly held by household members) – use REAL PROPERTY (423) or HOUSEHOLD (592), possibly with “LAND USE” (311) and FAMILY RELATIONSHIP (593)
GWA (literally a hearth) – use HOUSEHOLD (592)
JONFOROW (“personal fields”) – use REAL PROPERTY (423), possibly with “LAND USE” (311) and FAMILY RELATIONSHIP (593)
MARKET GARDENING (growing vegetables and fruits for sell) – use VEGETABLE PRODUCTION (244) and ARBORICULTURE (245), possibly with BUYING AND SELLING (432)
MUSOFOROW (“women's fields”) – use REAL PROPERTY (423) and GENDER STATUS (562)
OCCUPATIONAL CASTES – use OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALIZATION (463) and CASTES (564)
PLOW OXEN – use ANIMAL TRANSPORTATION (492) and OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL OF CAPITAL (471)
SEASONAL MIGRATION – use LABOR SUPPLY AND EMPLOYMENT (464)
TÓN (age sets of junior men) – use AGE STRATIFICATION (561) and SODALITIES (575) or COOPERATIVE ORGANIZATION (474)
VILLAGE CHIEF – use COMMUNITY HEADS (622) and LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)
WATER WELLS – use WATER SUPPLY (312) and (when rented) OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL OF CAPITAL (471)