The Susu people (Susu: Soso; French: Soussou) are a major Mande ethnic group living residing in Guinea, Sierra Leone and with a. smaller communities also located in the Senegal. The Susu are believed to be descendants of the 12th- and 13th-century Takur kingdom called Sosso (Susu), which was ruled by Soumaore Kante (also known as Sumanguru). Sumanguru was defeated by Sundiata Keita in 1235 at the battle of Kirina, leading to the collapse of the Sosso kingdom and the formation of the Mali Empire.
A Virgin Susu dancer at Port Loko, Sierra Leone, entertains the Queen and prince Philip during their tour of the country.Circa 1961(Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
It is said that the name Guinea came from Susu word "guinè" means "woman." According to Guinean historians "When a group of Europeans arrived on the coast they met some women washing clothes in an estuary. The women indicated to the men that they were women. The Europeans misunderstood and thought the women were referring to a geographic area; the subsequently used the word "Guinea" to describe coastal West Africa."
Soso people who largely Muslims are the third largest ethnic group in Guinea with an estimated population of over 2.3 million people constituting over 24% of the the Guinean population. Aside from Guinea, the next largest concentration of Susus are in Sierra Leone and sizable number in Senegal which the recent estimates indicate that they they number upwards of 1 million. The Susu predominate in the central region of Guinea and theirs is the most widely spoken language in the capital Conakry and other cities in central Guinea, including Kindia, Forekaria and Koya. The Sierra Leonean Susu live primarily in Kambia District where they form the second largest ethnic group after the Temne at about 28% of the population.
They speak a dialect of Susu-Yalunka known to Susu people as Sosoxui, a language belonging to the Mande branch of the Niger-Congo languages. Sosoxui serves as a major trade language along the Guinean coast, including the capital city of Conakry. Other large cities where Susu is spoken include Dubreka, Kindia, Forécariah, Boffa, Kamsar, and Boke. The Susu language is almost similar to the language of the Yalunka people who live near Faranah. The Susu and Yalunka believe they were originally one people group living in the Fouta Djallon region of Guinea.