Dyula - Orientation

Identification. "Dyula" is a Manding word typically referring to "traders" as a socioprofessional category, particularly to Muslim long-distance traders who speak one or another dialect of Manding. The name is used as an ethnic label by Manding-speaking minorities, particularly those living amid various Gur-speaking groups, such as the Senufo and Kulango.

Location. The Dyula are an ethnic minority in north-central and northeastern Ivory Coast, in southeastern Mali, and southwestern Burkina Faso, roughly from 8° to 12° N and from 3° to 6° W, along the southern fringes of the savanna. Nowadays many Dyula are also to be found in major towns and cities of all three countries.

Demography. The Dyula account for about 10 to 20 percent of the population of the areas they occupy. They number between 200,000 and 300,000. Since the term "dyula" is also used as a socioprofessional category, it is difficult to rely on census data for estimates, especially as many Dyula have migrated to large urban areas.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Dyula speak dialects of Manding, a northern Mande language of the Niger-Congo Family. The Dyula dialects are very closely related to certain dialects of Bamana (or Bambara) and Maninka (or Malinke), all of which are mutually comprehensible.

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