Mau people


Mau / Mahou / Mahouka

The Mau of Ivory Coast are numbering 418,000 ), 2023).

They are part of the Malinke people cluster within the Sub-Saharan African affinity bloc.

This people group is only found in Cote d’Ivoire.

Their primary language is Mahou.

The primary religion practiced by the Mau is Folk Islam, a syncretistic belief system that blends traditional elements of Islam with superstitious practices such as warding off spirits with incantations and magic amulets, and reciting verses of the Qur'an to bring about miraculous healings.

Mau People


The Mau, northern neighbors of the Dan, are the southernmost Malinke; they belong to the north Mande linguistic group. According to oral tradition, they descend from the Diomande who migrated from Mali to Côte d’Ivoire, pushing the Dan to the south.



The Mau Malinke are mainly full-time subsistence farmers. Rice is an important staple crop, along with millet, sorghum, and peanuts. When they have time, the men are also involved in other activities. Some have small part-time businesses to supplement their incomes. They may keep goats, sheep, bees, poultry, and dogs. In addition, they keep cattle as bride-price payments or for sacrifices.

Men usually do the heavy farm work, while the women do both domestic and farm chores.

Women have the jobs of cooking, cleaning, tending to the young children, and gathering forest products. Men are usually responsible for hunting, fishing and holding leadership positions such as headmen or imams (religious leaders).


Society and culture

The Mau Malinke are a patrilineal society, with the oldest male as the leader of the lineage. A "minor lineage" consists of a man and his immediate family. A "major lineage" is made up of the houses of brothers and their families. The next larger unit is the village settlement, which contains the houses of men of the same clan name. The men of one village attend ritual meetings together.

Traditionally Mau Malinke marriages were arranged when the girl was still an infant. Today, marriages are still arranged, but not so early. The groom must give premarital and post-marital bride-service to the bride's family in addition to paying a bride-price. There is unlimited polygamy (having multiple wives) among the Mau Malinke, but men rarely have more than three wives.

There are three divisions within Malinke society: those who are free-born, the artisans and the slaves. The free-born class originally consisted of Malinke nobility. Today, it consists of farmers, merchants, Muslim clerics, and others.

The artisan class includes blacksmiths, leather workers and griots (praise singers). Artisans are revered for their expertise and craft secrets, which involve spiritual rituals; therefore, they are looked upon with fear and awe. Griots are important members of society because they are responsible for passing down the oral traditions and cultural heritage of the Malinke.

The Mau Malinke people believe in upholding human dignity. They regard selfishness and a lack of hospitality are the two deadliest sins that defile this dignity.


When foreign merchants came to Africa, they brought Islam with them. The religion blended with the Mau Malinke's traditional religious practices and today, this blending of religions is still evident. It is not uncommon for a Mau Malinke to first pray in the village mosque and then sacrifice a chicken to the spirits. Healing, magic, and divination are important parts of Malinke Islam. Many people consult marabouts (holy men) for healing, protective charms, or insight into the future. Marabouts can also be consulted to put a curse on an enemy. Educated Mau Malinke may conceal their belief in magic, but there are very few who do not possess a charm or amulet of some sort.