The Mende are one of the biggest of the sixteen ethnic groups native to Sierra Leone.

They have a history of gravitating to certain professions, namely agronomists, teachers, politicians, and warriors. Their forefathers are the Mané invaders who came to Sierra Leone in the 16th century. The Mané culture left an indelible imprint on the region and shaped many of the traditions associated with Sierra Leone today.

During colonialism, they built a formidable resistance to the British Crown and when Sierra Leone sought independence, they were key players in the establishment of Sierra Leone’s new government.
Some famous Mende leaders are Paramount Chief Julius Gulama, Sir Milton Margai, Sir Banja Tejan-Sie and Ella Koblo Gulama.
Some famous African-Americans who discovered their Mende ancestry through DNA analysis are the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, Dr. Maya Angelou, Rep. John Lewis and Jesse Jackson.