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Bozo girls from Bamako
Bozo fishermen on the Bani

The Bozo are an ethnic group native to West Africa whose settlement areas are predominantly on the Niger River in Mali . The name is probably derived from bambarian bo-so "bamboo house" and denotes the entirety of the ethnic group. Clan names such as Sorogoye, Hain and Tieye are used below this designation. The Bozo traditionally live from fishing and are sometimes referred to as the "masters of the river". A 2000 census found the Bozo population of Mali to be 132,100.


The languages ​​spoken by the Bozo belong to the Soninke subgroup of the northwestern Mande languages and have long been considered dialects of a language. Recently, however, at least four independent variants have been assumed.


Rock carvings attributed to the Bozo date back to 6000 years, but their present culture is mainly the result of the 10th century occupation of the Niger bank in the Empire of Ghana . The Bozo were the founders of the Malian cities of Djenné and Mopti .


Although predominantly Muslim, their culture preserved a wide variety of ethnically religious traditions . Your animal totem is a bull, whose body represents the Niger and its horns that are used by Bozofischern pirogues represent. One of these pre-Islamic or pre-patriarchal traditions is a separate sleeping place for young men, where they can have premarital experiences with the opposite sex. Such houses are also known from the Muria ethnic group in central India and described by Bronislaw Malinowski and Wilhelm Reich among the inhabitants of the Trobriand Islands .


  • Ziedonis Ligers: Les Sorko (Bozo), maîtres du Niger: étude ethnographique (four volumes) . Librairie des Cinq Continents, Paris (1964–1969).

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