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Saturday, February 13, 2010


The Jolas have a concept of one God that they associate with the natural phenomena like sky, rain, and the year. They call this one god Emit (God) or Ata Emit; literally, "To Whom Belong The Universe" or "The Master-Owner Of The Universe". (See article J. David Sapir) However, like any other religion, the Jolas have charms or sacred forests and sacred lands which they honour and with which they communicate (not worship). These supernatural spirits can protect their families, their villages, and their rice fields; and can even protect them from conversion to Islam and Christianity. The spirits are called Bakin or Eneerti (Mandinka Jalang). Unfortunately people[who?] who don't understand how Jolas pray and relate to their God think that the Jolas have no God but rather spirits, because they offer sacrifices to the Bakin. But a Jola knows the difference between his/her God (Ata Emit) and the Bakin. Jolas are also able herbal medicine practitioners. Their high adaptation to the nature and environment allowed them to be able to create musical centred civilisation, natural medicine centred civilisation, and most important of all, rice cultivation centred civilisation which they do effectively by using a locally made farming tool called the kajando.

Like most of the indigenous ethnic groups of the Senegambian region-- the Baga, the Serere, the Balanta, the Konyagi, etc.-- the Jola ethnic group did not develop a political scale that expanded beyond village level compared to ethnic groups that migrated to the region like the Sonikes and the Mandingos. But this does not mean they did not develop a sophisticated political system. The egalitarian nature of their societies (rare in most societies), structured around the limited village environment gave them the possibilities to develop a political system based on collective consciousness, which they worked through their initiation rites. In a sense the Jolas' political achievement in the village was socialism. It was totally tied to their religious belief in the Bakin. This political achievement is not easy to reach if the society that runs it does not have well-defined rules of administration and penalties.

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