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An ethno-linguistic group, belonging to the larger Mande family of peoples, that occupy mountain areas in north-eastern Sierra Leone and adjacent parts of the Republic of Guinea. Their arrival in Sierra Leone in the 16th century is thought to have been part of the general dispersal of Mande peoples that followed the disintegration of the Mali empire. Kuranko oral traditions describe successive waves of immigration that led to them taking over territory from the Kisi to the south-east and the Limba in the west; while Temne oral traditions that trace the foundation of Temne chiefdoms in Kunike and Kolifa to the arrival in those areas of Kuranko hunters suggest that their influence once extended further into the centre of Sierra Leone than is now the case. Although in the 18th and 19th centuries Kuranko territory lay squarely on major trade routes that linked the peoples of the Upper Niger to the coast, the re-routing of commerce towards the respective colonial capitals that occurred in the colonial era and the development of new internal rail and road systems that followed have left most Kuranko on the periphery of the main economic and social changes that have affected the lives of people elsewhere in Sierra Leone.

  • M.Jackson, The Kuranko (London 1977)