The Bambara are a large Mande ethnic group with a presence in much of West Africa, primarily in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Senegal. Because of the heavy clay content in the savanna soil they farm, the Bambara developed a unique cooperative agricultural system in which whole communities jointly plow, plant, weed, and harvest crops. The Bambara also retained their traditional religion well into the nineteenth/twentieth century, fiercely resisting the encroachment of Islam in their kingdoms of Ségou and Kaarta. It is only after World War II, when resistance to French colonialism often took the form of Muslim revivalism that most of the Bambara converted to Islam.
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