Fulani People History

2nd June 2017 BY checkoutafrica

340px-Fulani_Woman_from_Niger

The Fula people or Fulani or Fulɓe (Fula,French,Peul, Hausa: Fulani; Portuguese: Fula, Wolof: Pël, Bambara, Fulaw) are one of the largest ethnolinguistic groups in Africa, numbering approximately 40 million people in total. They are one of the most widely dispersed and culturally diverse of the peoples of Africa. The Fulani are bound together by the common language of Fulfulde, as well as by some basic elements of Fulbe culture, such as the pulaaku, a code of conduct common to all Fulani groups.

A significant proportion of their number, (an estimated 13 million), are nomadic, making them the largest pastoral nomadic group in the world. Spread over many countries, they are found mainly in West Africa and northern parts of Central Africa, but also in Sudan and Egypt.

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There are many names (and spellings of the names) used in other languages to refer to the Fulɓe. Fulani in English is borrowed from the Hausa term.Fula, from Manding languages, is also used in English, and sometimes spelled Fulah or Fula. Fula and Fulani are commonly used in English, including within Africa. The French borrowed the Wolof term Pël, which is variously spelled: Peul, Peulh, and even Peuhl. More recently the Fulfulde / Pulaar term Fulɓe, which is a plural noun (singular, Pullo) has been Anglicised as Fulɓe,which some people use. In Portuguese, the terms Fula or Futafula are used. The terms Fallata Fallatah or Fellata are of Kanuri origins, and is often the name by which Fulani people are identified by in Sudan.

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African countries where they are present include Mauritania, Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, the Gambia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Chad, Togo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan the Central African Republic, Liberia, and as far East as the Red Sea in Sudan and Egypt. With the exception of Guinea, where the Fula make up an ethnic plurality (largest single ethnic group) or approximately 40%+ of the population,Fulas are minorities in every country they live in. So, most also speak other dominant languages of the countries they inhabit, making many Fulani bilingual or even trilingual in nature. Such languages include Hausa, Bambara, Wolof, Arabic, etc.

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Major concentrations of Fulani people exist in the Fouta Djallon highlands of central Guinea and south into the northernmost reaches of Sierra Leone; the Futa Tooro savannah grasslands of Senegal and southern Mauritania; the Macina inland Niger river delta system around Central Mali; and especially in the regions around Mopti and the Nioro Du Sahel in the Kayes region; the Borgu settlements of Benin, Togo and West-Central Nigeria; the northern parts of Burkina Faso in the Sahel region’s provinces of Seno, Wadalan, Soum, Etc.; and the areas occupied by the Sokoto Caliphate, which includes what is now Southern Niger and Northern Nigeria (such as Tahoua, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zinder, Bauchi, Diffa, Yobe, Gombe, and further east, into the Benue river valley systems of North Eastern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon).

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This is the area known as the Fombina literally meaning “The South” in Adamawa Fulfulde, because it represented the most southern and eastern reaches of Fulɓe hegemonic dominance in West Africa. In this area, Fulfulde is the local lingua franca, and language of cross cultural communication. Further east of this area, Fulani communities become predominantly nomadic, and exist at less organized social systems. These are the areas of the Chari-Baguirmi Region and its river systems, in Chad and the Central African Republic, the Ouaddaï highlands of Eastern Chad, the areas around Kordofan, Darfur and the Blue Nile, Sennar, Kassala regions of Sudan,[24] as well as the Red Sea coastal city of Port Sudan. The Fulani on their way to or back from the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, settled in many parts of eastern Sudan, today representing a distinct community of over 2 million people referred to as the Fellata.

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While their early habitat in West Africa was apparently in an area in the vicinity of the borders of present-day Mali, Senegal and Mauritania, they are now, after centuries of gradual migrations and conquests, spread throughout a wide band of West and Central Africa. The Fulani People occupy a vast geographical expanse located roughly in a longitudinal East-West band immediately south of the Sahara, and just north of the coastal rain forest and swamps, although situations have changed a lot in recent times, and, a sizable proportion of Fulani people now live in the heavily forested zones to the south, in countries like Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon, Guinea, The Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Various Fulɓe subgroups are now found well within the forested southern quarter of West and Central Africa.

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There are approximately 40 million Fulani people. They are considered among the most “widely dispersed and culturally diverse peoples in all of Africa.” There are generally three different types of Fulani based on settlement patterns, viz: the Nomadic/Pastoral or Mbororo, The Semi-Nomadic and the Settled or “Town Fulani”. The pastoral Fulani move around with their cattle throughout the year. Typically, they do not stay around, for long stretches {not more than 2–4 months at a time} . The semi-nomadic Fulani can either be Fulɓe families who happen to settle down temporarily at particular times of the year, or Fulɓe families who do not “browse” around past their immediate surroundings, and even though they possess livestock, they do not wander away from a fixed or settled homestead not too far away, they are basically “In-betweeners” .

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Settled Fulani live in villages, towns and cities permanently and have given up nomadic life completely, in favor of an urban one. These processes of settlement, concentration and military conquest led to the existence of organized and long-established communities of Fulani, varying in size from small villages to towns. Today, some major Fulani towns include: Labé, Pita, Mamou and Dalaba in Guinea, Kaedi, Matam and Podor in Senegal and Mauritania, Bandiagara, Mopti, Dori, Gorom-Gorom and Djibo in Mali and Burkina Faso, on the bend of the Niger, and Birnin Kebbi, Gombe, Yola, Jalingo, Mayo Belwa, Mubi, Maroua, Ngaoundere, Girei and Garoua in the countries of Cameroon and Nigeria, in most of these communities, the Fulani are usually perceived as a ruling class.

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The language of Fulani people is called Fula language .It is also called or Fula or Pulaar depending on the region, or variants thereof. It is also the language of the Tukulor. It is a language closely related to Wolof and Serer. All Senegalese and Mauritanians who speak the language natively are known as the Halpulaar or Haalpulaar’en, which stands for “speakers of Pulaar” (“hal” is the root of the Pulaar verb haalugol, meaning “to speak”). In some areas, e.g. in northern Cameroon, Fulfulde is a local lingua franca.

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Milk, known as Kossam in Fulfulde, the language of the Fulani, is very central to Fulbe identity. It is revered and loved as a drink or as one of its various processed forms, such as Yoghurt and Cheese. Kettugol is derived from milk fat, and is used in light cooking.

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It isn’t uncommon to see Fulani women hawking around milk products in characteristic beautifully decorated calabashes balanced on their heads. Other meals include, a heavy porridge (nyiiri) made of flour from such grains as millet, sorghum, or corn which is eaten in combination with soup (takai, haako) made from tomatoes, onions, spices, peppers, and other vegetables.

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Another popular meal eaten by almost all Fulani communities, is made from Fermenting Milk into Yoghurt and eaten with Corn cous-cous known as Latchiiri or Dakkere, either in the same bowl, or separately. The Fulbe Wodaabe traditionally eat millet, milk and meat as staples. Millet is eaten in the morning, noon and night as a porridge with a sauce or stew which usually contains tomatoes, peppers, bone, meat, onion and water and other vegetables. On special occasions they eat meat such as goat or beef. A thick beverage similar to the Tuareg beverage eghajira is made by pounding goat cheese, milk, dates and millet.

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