The Fulani People

Fula people or Fulani or Fulbe are an ethnic group spread over many countries, predominantly in West Africa, but found also in Central Africa and Sudanese
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What you should know about the #Fulani people...


LOCATION:
Where can the Fulani be found? The region covered by the Fulani people in Africa is quite vast...

From the western part of West Africa (Senegambia) to Chad in the east (some groups reaching as far as the Nile river in the countries of Sudan and Ethiopia); largest concentrations in Nigeria, Senegal, and Guinea

POPULATION:
The population of the Fulani people is more than 7 million in the West African Region

LANGUAGES:
Languages spoken by the Fulani include: Fulfulde; Arabic; French; English, Hausa

RELIGION: The religion of the Fulani people is majorly Islam although a negligible population still practice traditional religion

ABOUT THE FULANI PEOPLE
The Fulani people (also known as Fulbe or Peuls or Fulla ) live in West Africa. They are among the most widely dispersed and culturally diverse peoples in all of Africa.

Origin of the Fulani people: Many Fulani trace their beginnings back one thousand years to the Senegambia area.
By the eighteenth century some had migrated as far east as the Niger and Benue Rivers (now in Nigeria). In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, some Fulani populations adopted the Islamic religion and initiated jihads (holy wars) in several parts of West Africa.

Today, one finds both nomadic, pastoral Fulani (mbororo'en) and settled Fulani (Fulbe wuro). The pastoral Fulani (full-time cattle keepers) move about with their cattle for much of the year. In contrast, the settled Fulani live permanently in villages and cities. Although both groups share a common language and origin, they regard themselves as only distantly related.

LANGUAGE
The language of the Fulani is known as Fulfulde (or Fula or Pulaar). There are at least five major dialects: Futa Toro, Futa Jallon, and Masina in the west and Central Nigeria; and Sokoto and Adamawa in the east. Although they have similarities in grammar and vocabulary, communication among Fulani from different regions is difficult. As Muslims, many Fulani can read and write Arabic.

An example of a saying in Fulfulde is Tid'd'o yod'ad'd'o (Work hard and succeed). An example of a Fulani proverb is: Hab'b'ere buri ginawol (Actions should be judged according to intention).


FOLKLORE
Despite the importance of Islam, some modern-day Fulani traditions recount the pre-Islamic origin of their people.
These traditions state that (mostly believed about the origin of the Fulanis): cattle, as well as the first Fulani family, emerged from a river. They began migrating across Africa and gave birth to children who founded the various Fulani groups.

Folktales (taali) are popular among all Fulani. Children are told bedtime stories that usually have a moral. Among the nomadic Fulani, there are many stories pertaining to their cattle and migrations. All Fulani tell animal tales, recounting the adventures of squirrels, snakes, hyenas, and rabbits, some of which are extremely clever.
 
RITES OF PASSAGE
Shortly after a child is born, a naming ceremony is held, following Islamic law and practice. Around the age of seven, boys are circumcised, followed by a small ceremony or gathering in their household. Shortly after this time, they begin performing herding or farming activities, sometimes on their own. At this age, girls help their mothers.

Fulani girls are usually betrothed in marriage during their early to mid-teens. Boys remain sukaa'be (handsome young men) until around the age of twenty. At that time, they start a herd or obtain a farm, and marry. There are ceremonies to prepare the bride and groom for marriage. Afterward, their families sign a marriage contract under Islam. By middle age, a man may be known as a ndottijo (elder, old man) who has acquired wisdom over the years.

RELATIONSHIP AMONG THE FULANI PEOPLE
All Fulani have an elaborate code for interacting among themselves and with other people. The code, known as Pulaaku, decrees semteende (modesty), munyal (patience), and hakkiilo (common sense).

All of these virtues must be practiced in public, among one's in-laws, and with one's spouse. Islam, which also requires modesty and reserve, has tended to reinforce this code.

LIVING CONDITIONS AMONG THE FULANI
Among the nomadic Fulani, life can be extremely harsh. They often live in small, temporary camps. These can be quickly dismantled as they move in search of pasture and water for their herds. Because of the settlements' distance from towns, modern health care is not readily available.

Fulani have also settled in towns and cities. In the cities they usually reside in large family houses or compounds.

FAMILY LIFE
Among the Fulani, the family includes one's immediate kin and extended family, all of whom are all treated as close kin. In rural areas, these groups tend to live close together and join in work efforts. In the towns and cities, they tend to be more widely dispersed. Each kin group (lenyol) normally recognizes a common male ancestor who lived several generations ago and founded the family.

Male family members usually choose spouses for their children. Matches are generally made between relatives (particularly cousins) and social equals. This practice helps keep wealth (cattle and land) in the family. Polygyny (multiple wives) is not uncommon in Fulani society. A man's wives all help with domestic work and can bear him many children.
 FULANI CULTURE
Among the Fulani, music and art are part of daily life. Work music is sung and played on drums and flutes. Court music (drumming, horns, flutes) and praise-singing are popular in towns, especially during festivals. Praise singers tell about a community's history and its leaders and other prominent individuals. Religious singers may cite Islamic scriptures.

Most commonly, decorative art occurs in the form of architecture, or in the form of personal adornments such as jewelry, hats, and clothing.


SPORTS
Among the nomadic Fulani, young men participate in a kind of sport known as sharro. This is a test of bravery in which young men lash each other to the point of utmost endurance. This practice is most common as men enter manhood. However, some continue it until they become elders.

Among the settled Fulani, there is a variety of traditional local sports and games, including wrestling and boxing. Western sports such as soccer and track and field are now found in communities and schools.

SOCIAL PROBLEMS
The pastoral Fulani are currently facing many problems. Drought often reduces their water supply and pasture, and disease may also strike the herds. Increasingly, there is less land available for herding, and conflicts with settled people have increased. Present-day governments are also curtailing the Fulanis' movements or trying to force them to settle down.
The Fulani are not killers but they tend to fight and cause havoc when threatened by their hosts or visitors.

CREDIT: everyculture.com

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