is a densely populated savannah area, just south of the Sahara
Desert, in an area known as the Sahel. The MNK are subsistence
farmers, planting peanuts, millet, corn and rice in the rainy
season, and fishing along the Cassamance
and Gambia rivers.
Generally their villages are found intermixed
with Wolof and Fula villages on the north bank of the River
Gambia, and among
the Jola and Fula in southern Senegal, down into Guinea-Bissau.
Mandinka predominant in The Gambia; Mandinka is the trade language
of southern Senegal.
The climate and geography changes from arid Sudan-savannah
bush land in The Gambia, to a more humid and
forested area in Senegal
and Guinea Bissau. The farming (rainy) season occurs from July
through October, followed by an eight month dry season. Afternoon
dry season temperatures reach 115°F. Environmental concerns
include deforestation, over-grassing, bush fires, soil erosion
Women do the bulk of the rice field work
during the rainy season. Peanuts, the major cash crop, are farmed
by men. For local bartering, men also plant watermelon and pumpkins.