Malian American

Malian American
Total population
1,790 (2000 US Census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Mainly New York City, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, and Baltimore
Related ethnic groups
Ivorian American, Guinean American, Senegalese American

Malian Americans are Americans of Malian descent. According the 2000 US Census, there were 1,790 Malian Americans, while the same Census count a total 2,735 Malian-born people living throughout United States. [2] However, the number the people of Malian origin may be more higher. In 2007, it was estimated that in New York lived approximately 8,0htt00 Malian Americans,[3] while in 2013, the number of people of Malian origin in this city exceeded the 20,000 people.[4]


The first people of Malian origin who migrated to the United States were Mandinkas (and some Tuaregs), a Muslim ethnic group who were descendants of members of the Mali Empire (1230s–1600s) and who were scattered by West Africa because to the expansion of that empire. For that reason, and because of other subsequent migrations throughout West Africa even after the dissolution of the empire, they were exported as slaves to the modern United States from various parts of this area (such as Senegal and Gambia), during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.[5]

In addition of the Mandinkas, had a large presence of non-Muslim Bambara from Mali in Louisiana. It fact is very curious, when we consider that, at present, at least most of Bambara people are Muslims. [6]

The African slaves were captured in conflict with other African ethnic groups, many times in the interior of Africa, who enslaved and sold them to European and American slave traders in the African shores. [7]

After the abolition of slavery in United States in 1865, few Malians emigrated to the United States until the 20th century. So, the first wave of Malian voluntary migration occurred in the 1970s and 1980s[3] having as objective studying. However, would not be until the 1990s when the biggest wave of Malian immigrants came to the United States. This time the majority of Malians who emigrated to the United States and Europe did this mainly to escape poverty and famine in their country, along with a coup and the closing of schools in 1991.[8] However, at the beginning of the decade, most Malians who emigrated to New York were Malian artists and Dioula (traders). Already in this city, they sought new markets to sell their products. Over time, they moved to other cities like Chicago, Seattle and Philadelphia. Following these migrations, Chicago started to become one of the major cities in the United States with Malian communities. In addition, many Malians who emigrated in this decade were also women who came to New York[3][8] and Washington DC, pursuing economic and educational opportunities they had in those cities. In addition, a small group of graduate students studying on government-sponsored scholarships moved to the US, along with family members using the lottery system for green cards.[8] Roughly 3,500 Malians enter the United States each year on temporary visas,[3] but only about 85 Malians a year get citizenship. Some Malian immigrants also gain asylum, mainly women seeking refuge from female genital mutilation, as it is widespread in West Africa.[3][4]


Many Malians are living illegally in the United States, and are raising native-born children. Furthermore, the practice of having more than one wife exists in Muslim countries are still held in the Malian origin community in the United States. The cities with the most significant population are: New York City (where live about 20,000 people of Malian origin, mostly in the Bronx where approximately 8,000 them live[4]), Washington, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, and Baltimore.[4][3] Malian Americans may speak French, as a first or second language, English, Bambara and other African languages and they are mostly Muslims. [3] The Malian community has continued to grow rapidly due to emigration to New York.[8]

Organizations and parties

Most Malians are Muslims. Thus, the majority of Malians meet regularly for parties and holidays birth, among which include Muslim and Christian holidays. They also celebrate holidays in Mali and the United States. They even get together to celebrate Thanksgiving and the American Independence Day, and the Malian Independence Day (September 22), among others. As with other ethnic groups, have created Malians organizations. One of them is a mutual aid organization to help members who encounter financial problems. Mali Association, established in 2001, is supported by the majority of Malians and meets monthly, discussing problems that have both the organization and the community and make financial contributions for use in emergencies such as illness or death.

Because of the cultural ties that bind many Malians with other ethnic groups in West Africa, many Malians regularly attend events and meetings of other West African organizations in Chicago, and, although these groups have largely organized along national lines, there is much fluidity among the organizations and talk of forming a larger West African organization in the city.[8]


  • Historian Matt Schaffer believes that the American Southern English, depsite all its varieties, is essentially an African-American slave accent, and possibly a Mandinka accent, with other African accents, along with the colonial British accent layered in.[7]


  1. ^ "Table 1. First, Second, and Total Responses to the Ancestry Question by Detailed Ancestry Code: 2000". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-11-08. 
  2. ^ Malians in US. Posted BY Jennifer Kirby in JAN 30, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Disaster puts spotlight on Malian immigrants to U.S. By Michael Powell and Nina Bernstein. Published in Saturday, March 10, 2007
  4. ^ a b c d Mali in the Bronx. Posted by Earlene Cruz on January 29, 2013 at 9:30pm
  5. ^ Omar ibn Said (1831). "Autobiography of Omar ibn Said, Slave in North Carolina, 1831". University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
  6. ^ Ethnicities in United States
  7. ^ a b Bound To Africa — The Mandinka Legacy In The New World
  8. ^ a b c d e Encyclopedia ofChicago: Malians in Chicago. Posted by Tracy Steffes. Retrieved September 2, 2012, to 1:27 pm.

External links

  • Migration Information Source - Mali: Seeking Opportunity Abroad
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