Mandinga: Demystifying its Origins & Power

January 1, 2010 at 11:34 am Leave a comment

Mandinga pronounced Maan-jin-gaa is a term I came across while studying capoeira angola. It’s a mysterious word. I decided to delve into it to learn about its origins and meanings, and discovered a wealth of information about it.

Here are a few articles I came across.

o A small lesson in History: Mandinga
According to this article, “Mandinga is a word of African origin. In its form “Mandinka” or “Mandingo” it is the name of a huge ethnic group in West Africa (Mandinkas are one part of the Mandè ethnicity).  They have a common language, which is called Mandinka, and common traditions and history. Today there are about 11 million Mandinka scattered in the nations of Sierra leone, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Gambia and more states of West Africa. Most of them are of Islamic belief though they kept a huge amount of their old traditions.”

o What is Mandinga?
This articles talks about whether a person can learn mandinga.  “Can we learn it? Some people say yes, others say that Mandinga is a natural attribute which you have and which you don’t have. One quote is definitely right: “You can learn Mandinga, but you cannot teach it.” There is no way somebody can teach you how to “put a spell” on somebody, because Mandinga has a lot to do with natural expression, smartness, instinct and – of course – malicia and axé. Most of these are things you can’t learn, you just have.”

A mandinguero is someone who applies mandinga to his game or life in general.  It is someone who thinks strategically and has a clear vision of what they want to achieve and how to accomplish this.  It’s someone who is creative and resourceful, and makes the most of the situation they are in to achieve their goal.  Mandingueros can trick their opponent to make them think they will do a certain thing and then do something completely different.

Recently I was preparing rice for a group of people and realized that the instant Jamaican beans and rice I had was not going to be sufficient for everyone.  I began to add more rice and then I thought why not add a can of coconut milk, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.  Now I had prepared a sufficient amount of rice for everyone!

Afterwards I wanted to replicate this recipe, but this time without the instant Jamaican beans and rice, so I came up with the recipe below.  When I shared this dish at a vegan potluck, I told my friend the story of how I came up with the recipe and she said you used mandinga and therefore I call this recipe mandinga rice.

Now I have to admit I am far from mastering the art of mandinga, but I think we can all learn to apply mandinga in our lives to help us achieve our goals.

Mandinga Rice
1. 2 cups rice
2. 1 can of coconut milk (13.5 oz.)
3. 1 can of black beans (15 oz.)
4. pinch of garlic powder
5. pinch of cayenne pepper
6. pinch of salt
7. 3 to 4 hot pickled tabasco peppers aji picante (optional)

Add the rice and water at medium to high heat.  Bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat to low and add the coconut milk, black beans, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.  Let it all cook on low heat.

This recipe makes a lot of rice, so if you want to make a smaller amount you can half the recipe.  Feel free to improvise as necessary.

Share your thoughts

What does mandinga mean to you?  How do you apply it in your life?


Entry filed under: Recipes. Tags: , .

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