Bassari people

The Bassari people are an African people living in Senegal, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. The total population is between 10,000 and 30,000. Most of the Bassari are concentrated on either side of the Senegal-Guinea border southwest of Kedougou, Kédougou Region. This areas is referred to in French as Pays Bassari, or liyan in the Bassari language.

The Bassari speak a Tenda language, o-niyan. They refer to themselves as a-liyan, pl. bi-liyan. Most of the group are animists, with a significant minority of Christians (both Catholic and Protestant). Very few Bassari are Muslims. They have close relations with the Fula people centered locally in the nearby hills of the Fouta Djallon.[1]

The Bassari are subsistence farmers for the most part, growing rice, millet, earth-peas and fonio. They also migrate to the cities and towns of Senegal and Guinea in the dry season in search of wage-labor, using the money they earn to buy household equipment, clothing and other necessary items.

The mythology of the Bassari is centered on the creation god Unumbotte.[2]


  1. Bassari. in Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Accessed 2009-06-06.
  2. Manfred Lurker. The Routledge Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses, Devils and Demons. Routledge, Nov 11, 2004 pg. 191
  • Gessain, Monique 1967, Les Migrations des Coniagui et Bassari, Paris, Mémoires de la Société des Africanistes.
  • Nolan, Riall 1986, Bassari Migrations: The Quiet Revolution, Boulder, Westview Press.

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