The Jula of Mali are descendants of the Malinke (Mandingo) inheritors of the ancient Mali empire. By the 1500s the Jula began settling in towns where they often became politically subservient to the kings and chiefs of other ethnic groups. As a result of living between the Arab world to the north and the black African nations to the south, the Jula have a rich cultural mix which is reflected in their music, dance and artistry.
The name “Jula” means “itinerant trader” and the people are known for their trading abilities. Although trade is done by both men and women, division of labor is typically according to gender: weaving, fighting and studying Islam are performed by men and spinning, cooking and tending to children are performed by women.
The clan is the most important aspect of the community. The Jula are fiercely loyal to their clans and value obedience and honesty. The issue of human dignity is also important to this people group.
The Jula still practice polygamy and young people are encouraged to marry within their own clans, preferably between cousins. Girls are typically married by the age of sixteen. Nearly half the population is under the age of fifteen and only thirteen percent of the Jula live beyond the age of forty-five. Because of this, the Jula have great respect for the elderly.
The majority of the Jula are Sunni Muslim. However, twelve percent are what the Jula Muslims call “pagan,” people who hold to traditional animistic beliefs. Only one percent of the Jula are Christians and there are no mission agencies working with the Jula in Mali. Only portions of the Bible have been translated into the Jula language. Pray that Christian workers will finish the task and lead the Jula into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
For more information on the Jula of Mali, visit:
(Information compiled from www.joshuaproject.net)
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