The People of Guinea

Many people in Guinea live in abject poverty.  Yet with no running water, unreliable electricity, and little or no access to basic medical services, they live life with incredible spirit -  We in the West have much to learn from Guinean's sense of generosity, work ethic, family and community.


Guinea’s history is marred by dark periods, from slave trade, to long stretches of colonialism.  But Guineans have managed to keep their diverse culture intact and look past their differences to live peacefully as a nation. 

The culture of this West African nation is layered and interesting, inhabited by a wide range of ethnic groups, each with their own distinct traditions and variations of language. Guineans are predominantly Muslim, adhering to the teachings and religious observances of Islam. 


Languages of guinea

Among the major ethnic groups in the country are Peuhl or Fula (in the Fouta Djalon region), the Maninka (in the forests and savannahs of Upper Guinea), Susus (in Conakry), and smaller groups like Toma, Kissis, Kpelle, and Gerzé (in the forests and coastal areas).

The official business language for the country of Guinea is French. However almost 40 different languages are spoken among the various ethnic groups. The three most prevalent ethnic languages are Susu, Pular (Foulah, Peuhl), and Malinké. Susu is spoken in the coastal region and in the capital city, Malinké in Upper Guinea, and Fula in Middle Guinea. Toma, Guerze, Kissi and others are spoken in the Forest region bordering on Mali, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Because of this linguistic diversity, many Guineans are multilingual.


Music is one of the strongest aspects of Guinean culture. West African drum and dance is known and revered worldwide. With over 12 million people and at least 24 ethnic and racial groups, Guinean is music very extensive. This music dates far back and is rooted in tradition passed on through generations. 

Popular instruments include the ngoni, a distant relative of instruments like the banjo, the Cora, a cross between a harp and lute, and of course the cylinder Dunun drums and goblet shaped Djembe.  

Like in many places around the world, music is used to bring people together and in celebration. This too exists in Guinea in a very traditional manner.

Today Guinea hosts some of Africa's most remarkable artists, such as Mamady Keita.  



click here to watch a short youtube documentary on les ballets africains