Ethnographic notes from a people group in Mali

Posts Tagged ‘jenaama’

Nono who?

Posted by maggie on August 1, 2008

The Nononke are a people group in the inner Niger delta of Mali. Many refer to them as Marka or Marka jalan (lit. dry Marka), but because the term Marka can be misunderstood, we started using the term Nononke which is what they call themselves. (Marka in Bambara means Soninke, which is the origin of some Nononke, and “dry Marka” refers to the fact, that they no longer speak their original language, Soninke. However, there are other groups in Mali who are called Marka and who speak neither Soninke nor the same language as the Nononke.) The Nonoke that will be mentioned in this blog are mostly Jenaama speaking (lit. the language of Djenne), often also called Sorogaama (lit. the language of the Soroge or Bozo; Sorogo sg, Soroge pl). Jenaama is one of the four Bozo languages, which are spoken not only by the Bozo people but also by the Somono fisher and the Nononke. The other Bozo languages are Tieyaxo, Tiemacewe, and Hainyaxo.

The Nononke are mostly rice farmers in the inundation zone of the Niger river. Besides growing rice and two kinds of millet (sorghum and millet), the people have small patches of peanuts, corn, manioc and potatoes. The women usually have garden patches for growing onions, tomatoes, and gombo (okra).

Some writers refer to them as Nono. Some think that there was once a town called Nono, because Nononke could be translated as “man from Nono” (in Bambara). One of the common family names among the Nononke is Timbo. Their ancestral origin is Mandinka and they say that they came from the Mande main land (near the border of Guinea). Others, for example, people with the last name of Soumare, come from the Soninke or Sarakole, another Mande people group. Most references that I have found about the Nononke / Nono / Bozo speaking Marka where only an aside. So far I have not found any comprehensive description of this people group and their culture. This might be due to the fact that they have immigrated from other areas and adopted the Bozo language. Statistics about the Bozo people often don’t specify whether the Bozo speaking Marka and Somono are included. References to the Marka (e.g. in Segou) often don’t specify what kind of Marka they are referring to.

I plan to post bits and pieces of what I know about them and their culture, including some of their own stories.


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