AFRICA/SIERRA LEONE-The contribution of the mysterious Mani people in the construction of modern Sierra Leone

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - The mysterious Mani people traveled the streets of West Africa since the beginning of the sixteenth century until almost the beginning of the seventeenth century. Almost unknown and even ignored by history books, these people, defeated by a brave handful of people confederated together - the Limba with the Yalunka and the Susu with the Fula - indelibly marked the history of Sierra Leone and its neighboring peoples, because it imposes a new lifestyle, completely redesigned its ruling class and politically reunifies the small communities scattered throughout the unorganized territory of the present Republic of Sierra Leone.
The Mani people – who had left the great Mali Empire that had just disintegrated - emigrate from their homeland to seek new shores to live better. Along the way, led by a woman guerrilla, the terrible Macario (or Mansa-Rico), recruits her fighters (the Sumba) that feed themselves on human flesh and leave no escape for those who do not accept her supremacy. After losing the charismatic leader, fate guides the Mani towards Sierra Leone and in those lands, the terrible caravan, defeated in some decisive battles, finally stops. There four vassal kingdoms of an emperor are established which are behind the lines, in Cape Mount, in Liberia, where annual tributes are sent. Slowly they get used to the life, customs and traditions of the people conquered and genetically end up disappearing from the list of people. At the same time they influence and change the secular life of the inhabitants of those lands, giving them completely new rhythm of life, institutions and forms of political organization .
To reveal the largely unknown story of the Mani, is a missionary who spent many years in Sierra Leone, Fr. Gerardo Caglioni, sx, who in his recent essay ("The legendary story of the Mani, Infinity editions) also describes the forms of life, institutions, religion and traditions centuries-old that the land had jealously guarded for centuries and that somehow affected the presence of the Mani who arrived in Sierra Leone. In addition to contributing to the knowledge of the ancient history of Sierra Leone, filling a gap left vacant for too long, the essay opens to the understanding of another era, less known, but certainly not the most studied, which tells the story of the conversion of some of these Mani kings, with their families and some prominent elders, entered the Catholic Church and gave birth to a happy Christian experience in Sierra Leone. It was precisely these kings - that arose from the Mani conquest - who favored the welcome of the Catholic religion in their kingdoms to facilitate the change of some bad habits, rooted in those lands. (GC / SL) (Agenzia Fides 21/05/2011)

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