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Jola language resources

Jola is spoken on a daily basis in: Gambia Jola--> --> --> -->

Additional background on Jola

The Jola (Diola, in French transliteration) are an ethnic group found in Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau. They predominately inhabit the region of Casamance.

Gambian Jola scholar and master akonting player Daniel Laemouahuma Jatta describes his people and their culture as follows:

The Jolas are found in great numbers on the Atlantic coast between the southern banks of the Gambia River, the Cassamance region of Senegal (Southern Senegal), and the northern part of Guinea-Bissau. Unlike most of the ethnic groups of the Senegambian region, the Jola ethnic group is not hierarchal. That is it has no class system in its social institutions, like griots, slaves, nobles, leather workers, etc. Though the origin of the Jolas is still unknown, it is now confirmed by both oral and written history that they are the people who have been longest resident in the Gambia and among the indigenous people of the Senegambian region.

Their communities way of settlement are based on the extended family settlement, that are normally large enough to be given names of their own and independence. Names like Jola Karon, Jola Mlomp, Jola Elinnkin, Jola Caginol, Jola Huluf, Jola Jamat, Jola Joheyt, Jola Bayot, Jola Brin, Jola Seleky, Jola Kabrouse, Jola Jiwat, and Jola Foni etc (See article Patience Sonko-Godwin)

Although Jolas have a lot of traditional economic activities like fishing, farming groundnuts, taping palm wine, processing palm oil, just to name a few, their most intensive economic activity is rice cultivation. They had this knowledge long before the first European (the Portuguese) came to their region. This work activity (rice cultivation) is tied up closely to their religion and their social organizations. They have a good knowledge of animal husbandry and do raise a lot of different animals like cows, pigs, goats, chickens, sheep and ducks. In the area of craftsmanship, the Jolas have a great variety of craft knowledge like weaving baskets, pottery, and house building. Jolas are also great palm oil manufacturers and great palm wine tapers in the Senegambian region. They were the last ethnic group in the Senegambian region to accept Islam. Even though some Jolas accepted Islam in the end (Soninke-Marabout war), they still honour their traditional way of using palm wine when performing their important rituals.


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