The Info List - Fula People

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The FULA PEOPLE or FULANI or FULɓE (Fula : _Fulɓe_; French: _Peul_; Hausa : _Fulani or Hilani_; Portuguese: _Fula_; Wolof : _Pël_; Bambara : _Fulaw_; Arabic: _Fallatah_), numbering between 20 and 25 million people in total, are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Sahel and West Africa , widely dispersed across the region. The Fula people are traditionally believed to have roots in peoples from North Africa and the Middle East , who later intermingled with local West African ethnic groups. As an ethnic group, they are bound together by the Fula language and their Islamic religious affiliation, their history and their culture.

A significant proportion of the Fula – a third, or an estimated 7 to 8 million – are pastoralists , making them the ethnic group with the largest nomadic pastoral community in the world. The majority of the Fula ethnic group consisted of semi-sedentary people as well as sedentary settled farmers, artisans, merchants and nobility. Inhabiting many countries, they live mainly in West Africa and northern parts of Central Africa , but also in Chad , Sudan and regions near the Red Sea .

Many Fulbe were taken captive to the Americas from the 16th through the 19th century as part of the Atlantic slave trade . They were largely captured from Senegal and Guinea , with a significant percentage also taken from Mali and Cameroon . Some Fulbe of note abducted into slavery were Bilali Muhammad , Ayuba Suleiman Diallo , Salih Bilali, Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori , and Omar ibn Said . Some of Bilali Muhammad's known descendants still live on Sapelo Island , Georgia , United States, and he also left descendants in the Lucayan Archipelago . Abdul-Rahman and many others likewise have many descendants across the Americas both as a result of their own destinations and as a consequence of continued trading in human life after initial abductions from Africa.


* 1 Names * 2 Geographic distribution

* 3 History

* 3.1 Timeline of Fulani history * 3.2 Early history * 3.3 Settlement and Islam

* 3.4 Rise to dominance in West Africa

* 3.4.1 Imamate of Futa Jallon * 3.4.2 The Empire of Massina * 3.4.3 The Futanke / Toucouleur Empire * 3.4.4 The Sokoto Caliphate and its various emirates

* 4 Society

* 4.1 Slavery and caste system

* 5 Culture

* 5.1 Traditional livelihood * 5.2 Language * 5.3 Moral code * 5.4 Dress * 5.5 Herding * 5.6 Music * 5.7 Food * 5.8 Houses

* 6 Genomic studies

* 6.1 MtDNA (maternal) * 6.2 Autosomal DNA (overall)

* 7 Notable Fulani throughout history * 8 See also

* 9 References

* 9.1 Notes * 9.2 General references

* 10 Further reading * 11 External links


A Bodaado (Singular of Wadaabe) Fula man

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 FULLAH. 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 FULBE, which some people use. In Portuguese, the terms Fula or Futafula are used. The terms FALLATA FALLATAH or FELLATA are of Kanuri origins, and are often the ethnonyms by which Fulani people are identified by in Sudan.


A distribution map of Fula people. Dark green: a major ethnic group; Medium: significant; Light: minor.

The Fula people are widely distributed, across the Sahel from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea, particularly in West Africa. The countries where they are present include Mauritania , Ghana , Senegal , Guinea , the Gambia , Mali , Nigeria , Sierra Leone , Benin , Burkina Faso , Guinea Bissau , Cameroon , Ivory Coast , Niger , Chad , Togo , South Sudan the Central African Republic , Liberia , and as far east as the Red Sea in Sudan and Egypt . With the exception of Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger where the Fula make up the largest ethnic group, and Fulas are either a significant or a minority ethnic group in nearly all other countries they live in. Alongside, many also speak other languages of the countries they inhabit, making many Fulani bilingual or even trilingual in nature. Such languages include French, Hausa , Bambara , Wolof , and Arabic .

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 , and Soum ; 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). Fulani woman with one traditional hairstyle

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, 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.

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. There are an estimated 20-25 million Fulani people.

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".

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 .


FULBE ADAMAWA Nigeria Cameroon Chad Central African Republic Sudan Eastern Fulfulde

Adamawa (Fombinaare)

FULBE MBORORO Nigeria Cameroon Chad Central African Republic Sudan Niger Gabon Eastern Fulfulde

Sokoto (Woylaare) & Adamawa (Fombinaare)

FULBE BAGIRMI Central African Republic Chad Eastern Fulfulde

Adamawa (Fombinaare) & Bagirmi

FULBE SOKOTO Nigeria Niger Eastern Fulfulde

Sokoto (Woylaare)

FULBE GOMBE Nigeria Eastern Fulfulde

Sokoto (Woylaare) - Adamawa (Fombinaare) TRANSITIONAL

FULBE BORGU Nigeria Benin Togo Central Fulfulde

Borgu & Western Niger (Jelgoore)

FULBE JELGOOJI Mali Niger Burkina Faso Central Fulfulde

Western Niger (Jelgoore) max-width:269px"> Fulani woman and man from West Africa.

The origins of the Fulani people are unclear and various theories have been postulated. They are generally considered to be North African or Middle eastern in origin, at least partially. Known as one of the three "white"-rooted ethnic groups in West Africa, they typically have a lighter complexion than most Africans.

The ethnogenesis of the Fulani people may have begun as a result of interactions between an ancient West African population and North African populations such as Berbers or Egyptians. Their West African roots may be in and around the valley of Senegal River . They likely reflect a genetic intermix of people with West African, North African and Arabian origins, and have been a part of many ruling dynasties particularly in the Sahel and West Africa. Speculations about their origins started in the colonial era. In 1902, Edmund Dene Morel noted that the Leucæthiopes described by Pliny the Elder were described as running an "empire whose rulers were white, founded by a monarch with a Fulfulde" affixed to him name.



4TH CENTURY The Ghana Empire emerges in modern-day southeastern Mauritania and western Mali, as the first large-scale Sudano-Sahelian empire

5TH CENTURY The Ghana Empire becomes the most important power in West Africa

5TH CENTURY (?) The Fulbe migrate southwards and Eastwards from present day Morocco and Mauritania

9TH CENTURY Takrur , founded on the lower Senegal River (present-day Senegal), upon the influx of Fulani from the east and north settling in the Senegal River valley

11TH CENTURY Kingdoms of Tekruur and the Gao Empire flourish in West Africa due to gold trade

1042 Almoravids , Berber Muslims from southern Morocco and Mauritania, attack Takrur, after defeating the Sanhaja in 1039

1050S Islam gains a strong foothold in West Africa

1050-1146 Almoravids take over Morocco, Algeria, and part of al-Andalus ; they invade Ghana in 1076 and establish power there.

1062 Almoravids found capital at Marrakesh

1100 The Empire of Ghana starts to decline in influence and importance

1147 The Almohad Caliphate , ruled by Berber Muslims opposed to the Almoravids, seize Marrakesh and go on to conquer Almoravid Spain, Algeria, and Tripoli

1150 An unprecedented resurgence of the Ghana Empire sees it reach its height, controlling vast areas of western Africa as well as Saharan trade routes in gold and salt

1200 Fulanis of Takrur emerge from the shadows of a declining Ghana Empire and themselves set out on a road of conquest, they take its capital Koumbi Saleh in 1203

1235 Great warrior leader Sundiata Keita of the Mandinka people founds the Mali Empire in present-day Mali, West Africa; it expands under his rule

1240-1250 Mali absorbs Ghana, Tekruur and the Songhai Empire

1324 10th Emperor of Mali, Musa I of Mali , goes on his famous pilgrimage to Mecca , Saudi Arabia. his procession reported to include 60,000 men, 12,000 slaves who each carried 4 pounds (1.8 kg) gold bars, heralds dressed in silks who bore gold staffs, organized horses and handled bags. Musa provided all necessities for the procession, feeding the entire company of men and animals. Also in the train were 80 camels, which varying reports claim carried between 50 and 300 pounds (23 and 136 kg) of gold dust each

1325 The Empire of Mali reaches its height of power, covering much of Northern West Africa.

1352 Ibn Battuta , Berber scholar, travels across Africa and writes an account of all he sees

1450 The Fulani, in their search for more pasture, begin another wave of Eastward migrations from Senegal, and start gaining converts to Islam through the mid-16th century.

1461 Recorded Fulani presence in Nigeria

1462 Sonni Ali becomes ruler of the Songhai people and goes on to build the Songhai Empire

1490 The Mali empire is overshadowed by the Songhai Empire

16TH CENTURY Songhai Empire enters a period of massive expansion and power under Askia Mohammad I . Askia Mohammad strengthened his country and made it the largest contiguous territory ever in West African history. At its peak, the Empire encompassed the Hausa states as far as Kano (in present-day Nigeria) and much of the territory that had belonged to the Songhai empire in the west


1515 The Songhai Empire reaches its zenith and pinnacle of power

1590 Songhai Empire is defeated by invading Moroccans from further North

1650 Another wave of Fulbe migrations sees them penetrate even further in the Southern Senegal and Fouta Jallon highlands of middle Guinea

1670 Fulani people gain control of Bhundu in Senegal with Malick Sy, and the Sissibhe

1673 First unsuccessful Fulani jihad in the Futa Tooro

1725 First successful Fulani Jihad in the Fuuta Jalon highlands, Fulbe Muslim forces prevail over non-Muslim Fulbe and other people of the area, in the battle of Talansan . Second successful Jihad launched in the Futa Toro

1730 Strong Fulani presence threaten the neighbouring Bornu Empire of the Kanuri and Kanembu peoples

1775 Fulani Muslim cleric Alfa Ibrahim appointed Commander of the Faithful in Fuuta Jalon in West Africa

1800 End of first wave of Fulani Islamic Jihads : states of Futa Toro, Futa Djallon, Wuli and Bhundu in existence

1804-1809 Fulani Jihad begins in Haussaland led by Usman dan Fodio ; Sokoto Caliphate established

1808 Fulbe horsemen begin attack on the Bornu Empire . The Fulani cavalry is led by Muhammed Bello , son of Usman dan Fodio

1809 Haussa states completely defeated by Fulani Jihad. Sokoto Caliphate founded by Fulani (present-day Nigeria, Northern Benin, Southern Niger and Northern Cameroon)

1809 Fulani Jihad begins in Fombina. The 103,600 square kilometres (40,000 sq mi) Adamawa Emirate (Subordinate to Sokoto) founded in the region of North Eastern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon, by Adama ɓii Ardo Hassana , with its capital at Yola . He led the jihad into the region, opening it up for Fulani colonization. Today, the Fulani make up the largest ethnic group in the region

1808 Bornu successfully repel Fulani forces. The Bornu Empire never recovers from the war, and thus its decline begins

1820-1827 Fulani in Mali, West Africa, found and rule the Massina Empire , under the leadership of Seku Amadu , with its capital at Hamdullahi

1824 Yoruba state of Ilorin falls to the Sokoto Fulani jihad

1830 The Sokoto Caliphate reaches its zenith of power

1852 Fulani Toucouleur leader al-Hajj 'Umar launches Jihad along Senegal and upper Niger rivers to establish Islamic state. He later takes Timbuktu in 1853

1862 Macina Empire fell to Toucouleur forces from Fuuta Tooro led by el Hadj Umar Tall

1893 The French conquer the Fuuta Tooro Empire

1896 The French conquer the Imamate of Futa Jallon at the Battle of Porédaka

1901 Adamawa Emirate is partitioned between German Kamerun and British Northern Nigeria Protectorate

1903 The British conquer the Sokoto Caliphate


Tassili n\'Ajjer rock art

The earliest evidence that shed some light on the pre-historic Fulani culture can be found in the Tassili n\'Ajjer rock art, which seem to depict the early life of the people dating back to 6000 BCE). Examination of these rock paintings suggests the presence of proto-Fulani cultural traits in the region by at least the 4th millennium BCE. Tassili-N'Ajjer in Algeria is one of the most famous North African sites of rock painting.

Scholars specializing in Fulani culture believe that some of the imagery depicts rituals that are still practiced by contemporary Fulani people. At the Tin Tazarift site, for instance, historian Amadou Hampate Ba recognized a scene of the 'lotori' ceremony, a celebration of the ox's aquatic origin. In a finger motif, Ba detected an allusion to the myth of the hand of the first Fulani herdsman, Kikala. At Tin Felki, Ba recognized a hexagonal carnelian jewel as related to the Agades cross, a fertility charm still used by Fulani women. There are also details in the paintings which correspond to elements from Fulani myths taught during the initiation rites like the hermaphroditic cow.

The Fulani initiation field is depicted graphically with the sun surrounded by a circle lined up with heads of cows as different phases of the moon at the bottom and surmounted by a male and a female figures. The female figure even has a hanging braid of hair to the back. Though no exact dates have been established for the paintings they are undoubtedly much earlier than the historic times when the Fulani were first noticed in Western Sahara.

In the 9th century the Fulani may have been involved in the formation of a state with its capital at Takrur which is suggested to have had influx of Fulani migrating from the east and settling in the Senegal valley, although John Donnelly Fage suggests that Takrur was formed through the interaction of Berbers from the Sahara and "Negro agricultural peoples" who were "essentially Serer".

Fulani culture continued to emerge in the area of the upper Niger and Senegal Rivers. The Fulani were cattle-keeping farmers who shared their lands with other nearby groups, like the Soninke, who contributed to the rise of ancient Ghana. During the 16th century the Fula expanded through the sahel grasslands, stretching from what is today Senegal to Sudan , with eastward and westward expansion being led by nomadic groups of cattle breeders or the FULɓE LADDE. While the initial expansionist groups were small, they soon increased in size due to the availability of grazing lands in the sahel and the lands that bordered it to the immediate south.

Agricultural expansions led to a division among the Fulani, where individuals were classified as belonging either to the group of expansionist nomadic agriculturalists or the group of Fulani who found it more comfortable to abandon traditional nomadic ways and settle in towns or the FULɓE WURO. Fulani towns were a direct result of a nomadic heritage, and were often founded by individuals who had simply chosen to settle in a given area instead of continue on their way.

This cultural interaction most probably occurred in Senegal , where the closely linguistically related Toucouleur, Serer and Wolof people predominate, ultimately leading to the ethnogenesis of the Fulani culture, language and people before subsequent expansion throughout much of West Africa. Another version is that they were originally a Berber speaking people who crossed the Senegal to pasture their cattle on the Ferlo Desert south of the Senegal River . Finding themselves cut off from their kinsmen by the other communities now occupying the fertile Senegal valley, they gradually adopted the language of their new neighbours. As their herds increased, small groups found themselves forced to move eastward and further southwards and so initiated a series of migrations throughout West Africa, which endures to the present day.

Evidence of Fulani migration as a whole, from the Western to the Eastern Sudan is very fragmentary. Delafosse, one of the earliest enquirers into Fulani history and customs, principally relying on oral tradition, estimated that Fulani migrants left Fuuta-Tooro, and Macina, towards the east, between the eleventh and the fourteenth centuries. By the 15th century, there was a steady flow of Fulɓe immigrants into Hausaland and, later on, Bornu. Their presence in Baghirmi was later recorded when Fulani fought as allies, to Dokkenge or Birni Besif, when he founded Massenya (a Chadian town), early in the 16th century.

By the end of the 18th century Fulani settlements were dotted all over the Benue River valley and its tributaries. They spread eastwards towards Garoua and Rey Bouba , and southwards towards the Faro River , to the foot of the Mambilla Plateau , which they would later ascend in subsequent years. The heaviest concentrations of their settlements were at Gurin, Chamba territory, Cheboa, Turua and Bundang. These so-called "Benue-Fulani" reduced the frequency with which they moved from place to place. The number of years they stayed at one spot depended on two factors: the reaction of the earlier settlers of that locality to their presence, and how satisfactory the conditions were, i.e., availability of pastures for their cattle.


Fula people, with Arabic and North African roots, adopted Islam early. According to David Levison, adopting Islam made the Fulani feel a "cultural and religious superiority to surrounding peoples, and that adoption became a major ethnic boundary marker" between them and other African ethnic groups in Sahel and West Africa. Settled and nomadic Fulani became political and warring entities, armed with horses and equipment of war from the north. The wars were not merely between Fula people and other ethnic groups, but also internecine between the pastoral and sedentary Fulani, where sometimes they worked in cohesion, and other times the Muslim Fulani leaders attacked the nomadic Fulani as infidels.

The Songhai Empire rulers had converted to Sunni Islam in the 11th-century, and were a major trading partner of the Middle East and North Africa. The Fulani warriors, in the 15th century, challenged this West African trading state near the Niger River , but were repulsed. In 1493, Askia Muhammad led the Fulani people from western Sudan, and over time gained control of much that was previously Songhai empire, removing Sonni Baru who had attempted to protect the interests of pastoralists. Askia Muhammad won a control over the caravan trade routes in West Africa, but was overthrown by his own son, Askia Musa , in a coup in 1528.

The Fulani, after being the first group of people in West Africa to convert to Islam, became active in supporting Islamic theology and ideology from centers such as Timbuktu . The Fula people who later became known as the Toroobe worked with Berber and Arabian Islamic clerics, charting out the spread of Islam in West Africa. The Fula people led many jihads, or holy wars, some of which were major. These war efforts, helped spread Islam in West Africa, as well helped them dominate much of the Sahel region of West Africa during the medieval and pre-colonial era history, establishing them not only as a religious group but also as a political and economic force.


Futa Toro was established in the 1500s, by Denianke dynasty built out of Fulani and Mandinka forces; the importance of Fula people to this rule led to this era known as Empire of Great Fulo . The Fulani raided and violently disrupted the trade routes that accounted for the economic prosperity of older African kingdoms, and thus began their rise. Futa Bundu, sometimes called Bondu and located in Senegal and Faleme rivers confluence, became a center for the rise of West Africa-wide Fula empire and influence in 17th century. From the 18th century onwards, the frequency of Jihads increased such as those led by Ibrahim Sori and Karamoko Ali in 1725, the Fulani became a hegemonic force and were politically dominant in many areas. The region was engulfed in theocratic wars, with many Islamic lineages seeking political power and control. The Moroccans invaded western Sahel adding to an anarchical situation. Food production plummeted, and during this periods famines plagued the region, negatively affecting the political situation and increasing the trigger for militant control of the economic activity.

Over time, Fulɓe empire split among the later descendants and developed into many emirates. The main nuclei of Fulɓe power were the polities in the Senegal River Valley, the Fuuta Jallon mountains, in Guinea, the Inland Delta of the Niger in Mali (Maasina), the north of Nigeria and the Adamawa Plateau in Cameroon. In between these big centres there were numerous small polities dominated by the Fulɓe in the central Gourma of present-day Mali and the north and west of Burkina Faso (Jelgoji, Boboola, Dori, Liptako), northern Benin (Borgu), the Sene-Gambia, northern Senegal (Bundu), and the southern and western parts of present-day Niger (Dallol Bosso, Birni N'konni).

Imamate Of Futa Jallon

Main article: Imamate of Futa Jallon

The Emirate / Imamate of Timbo in the Fuuta Jallon was the first of the Fulɓe emirates in West Africa. It developed from a revolt by Islamic Fulɓe against their oppression by the pagan PULLI (non-Islamic Fulɓe), and the Jallonke (the original Mande inhabitants of the Fuuta-Jallon), during the first half of the 18th century. The first ruler took the title of _Almaami_ and resided in Timbo , near the modern-day town of Mamou . The town became the political capital of the newly born immamate, and the holy city and religious capital, was located in Fugumba . The Council of Elders of the Futa Jallon state were also based in Fugumba, acting as a brake on the Almami's powers.

The newly formed imamate was mostly located mainly in present-day Guinea, but also spanned parts of modern-day Guinea Bissau, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. This emirate was, in fact, a federal state of nine provinces: Timbo, Fugumbaa, Ɓuuriya, Koyin, Kollaaɗe, Keebaali, Labe, Fode-Hajji, and Timbi. After the Muslim Fulɓe victory, other ethnic groups who had resisted the jihad were deprived of their rights to land except for a small piece for their own subsistence, and were reduced to servitude. The nomad PULLI FULɓE lost all freedom of movement, and thus, began to settle en-masse. The Jalonke lost their noble status and became slaves (_maccuɓe_).

Later, due to strife between two branches of the Seediayanke royal lineage, (the Soriya and the Alphaya ), a system for the rotation of office between these branches was set up. This led to an almost permanent state of civil strife, since none of the parties was inclined to respect the system, which considerably weakened the power of the political centre.

The Empire Of Massina

Main article: Massina Empire Fula people have helped formed several historic Islamic theocracies and led many Jihad states such as the 19th-century Masina.

The Maasina Emirate, also called _Diina_ ("religion" in Fulfulde, with Arabic origins), was established by the Fulbe jihad led by Sheeku Aamadu in 1818. The origins of the Maasina Emirate in the Inner Delta of the Niger are also found in rebellion, this time against the Bambara / Bamana Kingdom of Segou , a political power that controlled the region from outside. This jihad was inspired by events in northern Nigeria where an important scholar of the time, Usman Dan Fodio, established an Islamic empire with Sokoto as its capital.

For some time, groups of Fulbe had been dominant in parts of the delta, thereby creating a complex hierarchy dating back through several waves of conquest. However, due to internecine warfare they were never able to organize a countervailing force against the Bamana Kingdom. In 1818, an Islamic cleric named Aamadu Hammadi Buubu united the Fulbe under the banner of Islam and fought a victorious battle against the Bamana and their allies. He subsequently established his rule in the Inland Delta and the adjacent dry lands east and west of the delta.

This state appears to have had tight control over its core area, as evidenced by the fact that its political and economic organization is still manifested today in the organization of agricultural production in the Inland Delta. Despite its power and omnipresence, the hegemony of the emirate was constantly threatened. During the reign of Aamadu Aamadu, the grandson of Sheeku Aamadu, internal contradictions weakened the emirate until it became easy prey for the forces of the FUTANKE, which subsequently overthrew the Maasina Emirate, in 1862.

The Futanke / Toucouleur Empire

Main article: Toucouleur Empire

Many regard the Futanke or Toucouleur conquest of the western Sudan and central Mali as a reform movement. The character of the Futanke Emirate was somewhat different, although its founding was related to the conquest of the Maasina Emirate and the Bamana Kingdoms of Segou and Kaarta in the aftermath of a movement for reform. Threatened by French colonial forces while at the same time being supplied with firearms by them, the Futanke staged a jihad to fight paganism and the competing Islamic brotherhood of the Tijannya.

Its founder, El Hadj Umar Tall an Islamic reformer originating from the Fuuta Tooro on the banks of the Senegal River, died fighting against rebels shortly after his forces defeated the Maasina Emirate. After El Hadj Umar's death, the emirate was divided into three states, each ruled by one of his sons. These three states had their capitals respectively in the towns of Nioro , Segou and Bandiagara . A most important distinction was between noblemen (free people) and the non-free (RIMMAIBE or MACCUBE).

The noblemen consisted of the ruling class of political overlords and Islamic clerics, as well as the pastoral Fulbe populations, who helped them come to power. Together, they formed a group of vassals to the political elite, and were considered noblemen, although, in reality, their political influence was minimal. The conquered populations were reduced to servitude or slavery and more slaves were captured in order to provide enough labour for the functioning of the economy. In addition, there were groups of bards, courtiers and artisans who occupied lower political and social positions.

The Sokoto Caliphate And Its Various Emirates

Main article: Sokoto Caliphate

The Sokoto Caliphate was by far the largest and most successful legacy of Fulani power in Western Africa. It was the largest, as well as the most well-organized, of the Fulani Jihad states. Throughout the 19th century, Sokoto was one of the largest and most powerful empires in West Africa until 1903, when defeated by European colonial forces. The Sokoto Caliphate included several emirates, the largest of which was Adamawa , although the Kano Emirate was the most populated. Others included, but are not limited to: Gombe Emirate , Gwandu Emirate , Bauchi Emirate , Katsina Emirate , Zazzau Emirate , Hadejia Emirate , and Muri Emirate .

While establishing their hegemony, the Fulbe defined a strict social hierarchy and imposed limitations on economic and trading activities, the purpose of which was to ensure a constant flow of tax revenue and commodities to the state apparatus and the standing army, especially for the cavalry. The freedom for pastoralists to move around was curtailed in order to ensure the smooth functioning of other production activities, such as cereal cultivation and, in the case of Maasina, of fishing activities.

There appears to be a considerable resistance to the forced acceptance of Islam by these emirates. For example, many nomadic Fulbe, predominantly Wodaabe fled northern Nigeria when their liberty was curtailed and they were forced to convert to Islam following the jihads instigated by Usman Dan Fodio from Sokoto. Conversion to Islam meant not only changing one's religion, but also submitting to rules dealing with every aspect of social, political and cultural life, intrusions with which many nomadic Fulbe were not comfortable.


The Fulani and Hausa people have taken some influences from each other's cultures. Upon the success recorded in the 1804 Fulani War of Usman dan Fodio , many of Fulɓe subsequently joined the ruling classes of the Northern Nigerian Emirate. They dress and speak like their Hausa neighbours and live in the same form (see Hausa–Fulani ). The Fulɓe who didn't settle during this period and their descendants, however, still keep an obvious distinct identity from that of the Hausa and other surrounding groups of the region. This Hausa–Fulani interaction is uncommon outside the eastern subregion of West Africa.

The Toucouleur people in the central Senegal River valley are closely related to the Fula people. During the medieval era, they paid a tribute to the Fula. Large numbers of other Fula-speakers live scattered in the region and have a lower status. They are descendants of Fula-owned slaves. Now legally emancipated, in some regions they still pay tribute to Fula elites, and they are often denied chances for upward social mobility.

In Mali , Burkina Faso and Senegal for instance, those within the fulɓe cultural sphere, but who are not ethnically Fula, are referred to as _yimɓe pulaaku_, i.e. (people of the Fula culture). As such, Fulani culture includes people who may or may not be ethnic Fulani. Although slavery is now illegal, memories of the past relationship between Fulɓbe and Rimayɓe are still very much alive in both groups. Paul Riesman, an American ethnographer who resided among the _Jelgooji Fulɓbe_ of Burkina Faso in the 1980s, states that the Fulɓe are tall, slim, and light-skinned; they have thin straight noses, and their hair tends to be long and curly. In contrast, the Rimayɓe are stocky, tending towards corpulence, dark-skinned with flat 'squashed' noses, and short kinky hair.


Fula society features the caste divisions typical of the West African region. The fairly rigid caste system of the Fula people has medieval roots, was well established by the 15th-century, and it has survived into modern age. The four major castes, states Martin Kich, in their order of status are "nobility, traders, tradesmen (such as blacksmith) and descendants of slaves". According to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, the Fulani people have held on to "a strict caste system".

There are the FULANI proper, also referred to as the FULɓE, including the PULLO (also called the RIMɓE (singular)) and the DIMO, meaning "noble". There is the artisan caste, including blacksmiths, potters, griots , genealogists, woodworkers, and dressmakers. They belong to castes but are _free people_. Then there are those castes of captive, slave or serf ancestry: the MACCUɗO, RIMMAYɓE, DIMAAJO, and less often ƁALEEɓE, the Fulani equivalent of the Tuareg Ikelan known as Bouzou (Buzu)/Bella in the Hausa and Songhay languages respectively. The Fulani rulers and merchants were, like many other ethnic groups of Africa, also involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, sourcing the enslaved people through raids and from captives they took by waging war.

The Fulani castes are endogamous in nature, meaning individuals marry only within their caste. This caste system, however, wasn't as elaborate in places like northern Nigeria , Eastern Niger or Cameroon . According to some estimates, by the late 19th century, slaves constituted about 50% of the population of the Fulɓe-ruled Adamawa Emirate , where they were referred to as _jeyaɓe_ (singular _jeyado_). Though very high, these figures are representative of many other emirates of the Sokoto Caliphate , of which Adamawa formed a part. The castes-based social stratification among the Fula people was widespread and seen across the Sahel, such as Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Sudan, and others.



The Fulani are traditionally a nomadic , pastoralist trading people. They herd cattle , goats and sheep across the vast dry hinterlands of their domain, keeping somewhat separate from the local agricultural populations. They are the largest nomadic ethnic group in the world, and inhabit several territories over an area larger in size than the continental United States.

The Fulani follow a code of behavior known as _pulaaku_, which consists of the qualities of patience, self-control, discipline, prudence, modesty, respect for others (including foes), wisdom, forethought, personal responsibility, hospitality, courage, and hard work. Among the nomadic Fulani, women in their spare time make handicrafts including engraved gourds, weavings, knitting, beautifully made covers for calabashes known as MBEEDU, and baskets. The Fulani men are less involved in the production of crafts such as pottery, iron-working, and dyeing, unlike males from neighboring ethnic groups around them.

In virtually every area of West Africa, where the nomadic Fulɓe reside, there has been an increasing trend of conflicts between farmers (sedentary) and grazier (pastoral nomadic). There have been numerous such cases on the Jos Plateau , the Western High Plateau , the Central/Middle Belt regions of Nigeria, Northern Burkina Faso, and Southern Chad. The rearing of cattle is a principal activity in four of Cameroon’s ten administrative regions as well as three other provinces with herding on a lesser scale, throughout the North and Central regions of Nigeria, as well as the entire Sahel and Sudan region.

For decades there have been intermittent skirmishes between the Woɗaaɓe _Bororo_ (graziers) and sedentary farmers such as the Jukun , Tiv , Chamba , Bamileke , and sometimes even the Hausa. Such conflicts usually begin when cattle have strayed into farmlands and destroyed crops. Thousands of Fulani have been forced to migrate from their traditional homelands in the Sahel, to areas further south, because of increasing encroachment of Saharan desertification . Nigeria alone loses 2,168 square kilometres (837 sq mi) of cattle rangeland and cropland every year to desertification, posing serious threats to the livelihoods of about 20 million people.

Recurrent droughts have meant that a lot of traditional herding families have been forced to give up their nomadic way of life, losing a sense of their identity in the process. Increasing urbanization has also meant that a lot of traditional Fulani grazing lands have been taken for developmental purposes, or forcefully converted into farmlands. These actions often result in violent attacks and reprisal counterattacks being exchanged between the Fulani, who feel their way of life and survival are being threatened, and other populations who often feel aggrieved from loss of farm produce even if the lands they farm on were initially barren and uncultivated.

Fulani in Nigeria have often requested for the development of exclusive grazing reserves, to curb conflicts. All the leading presidential aspirants of previous elections seeking Fulɓe votes have made several of such failed promises in their campaigns. Discussions among government officials, traditional rulers, and Fulani leaders on the welfare of the pastoralists have always centered on requests and pledges for protecting grazing spaces and cattle passages. The growing pressure from ARDO\'EN (the Fulani community leaders) for the salvation of what is left of the customary grazing land has caused some state governments with large populations of herders (such as Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, Plateau, and Kaduna) to include in their development plans the reactivation and preservation of grazing reserves. Quick to grasp the desperation of cattle-keepers for land, the administrators have instituted a Grazing Reserve Committee to find a lasting solution to the rapid depletion of grazing land resources in Nigeria.

The Fulani believe that the expansion of the grazing reserves will boost livestock population, lessen the difficulty of herding, reduce seasonal migration, and enhance the interaction among farmers, pastoralists, and rural dwellers. Despite these expectations, grazing reserves are not within the reach of about three-quarters of the nomadic Fulani in Nigeria, who number in the millions, and about sixty percent of migrant pastoralists who use the existing grazing reserves keep to the same reserves every year. The number and the distribution of the grazing reserves in Nigeria range from insufficient to severely insufficient for Fulani livestock. In countries like Nigeria, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso where meat supplies are entirely dependent on the Fulani, such conflicts lead to scarcity and hikes in animal protein prices. In recent times, the Nigerian senate and other lawmakers have been bitterly divided in attempts to pass bills on grazing lands and migration "corridors" for Fulani herdsmen. This was mainly due to Southern and Central Nigerian lawmakers opposing the proposal, and Northern Lawmakers being in support. Fulani are involved in Communal conflicts in Nigeria .


The language of the Fulani is Pulaar . It is also the language of the Toucouleurs. All Senegalese and Mauritanians who speak the language natively are known as the _Halpulaar_ or _Haalpulaar'en_, which means "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 .


Central to the Fulani people's lifestyle is a code of behavior known as _pulaaku_ or _laawol Fulɓe_ in Fulfulde, literally meaning the "Fulani pathways" which are passed on by each generation as high moral values of the Fulbe, which enable them to maintain their identity across boundaries and changes of lifestyle. Essentially viewed as what makes a person Fulani, or "Fulaniness", _pulaaku_ consists of four basic tenets.

The dominant traits of Laawol Pulaaku or the Fulani way are _munyal, hakkiilo, semteende, sagata_ and an intimate understanding of both the Fulfulde language and people.

_Munyal_ is a cross between strength and courage in adversity and a stoic acceptance or endurance of the supposedly pre-ordained vicissitudes of life. It is often translated as patience.

The word _hakkiilo_ (_hakkille_), meaning intelligence, foresight and common sense, conveys a blending of prudence and shrewdness in livelihood management and face-to-face encounters.

_Semteende_ (shame) is best described both as a lacking of restraint (_gacce/yaage_) and self-control in daily social interaction, and evidencing a weakness when facing adversity. It is most often translated as shame. When someone acts shamefully, Fulbe say _o sempti_, meaning they shamed themselves, or alternatively, _o walaa semteende (o wala gacce)_, meaning they have no shame. In other words, a pullo must know of the social constraints on behavior and be able to avoid contravening them in all situations, especially in front of others. A true fulani is in total control of his emotions and impulses.

* _Munyal_: Patience, self-control, discipline, prudence * _Gacce_ / _Semteende_: Modesty, respect for others (including foes) * _Hakkille_: Wisdom, forethought, personal responsibility, hospitality * _Sagata_ / _Tiinaade_: Courage, hard work


There are no particular outfits for all Fulani sub-groups; dressing and clothing accessories such as ornaments mostly depend on the particular region. The traditional dress of the Fulbe Wodaabe consists of long colourful flowing robes, modestly embroidered or otherwise decorated. In the Futa Jallon highlands of central Guinea, it is common to see men wearing a distinctive hat with colorful embroidery. In Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger, men wear a hat that tapers off at three angular tips, known as a _noppiire_. Both men and women wear a characteristic white or black cotton fabric gown, adorned with intricate blue, red and green thread embroidery work, with styles differing according to region and sex.

It is not uncommon to see the women decorate their hair with bead hair accessories as well as cowrie shells. Fula women often use henna for hand, arm and feet decorations, as in other similar cultures of Africa. Their long hair is put into five long braids that either hang or are sometimes looped on the sides. It is common for women and girls to have silver coins and amber attached to their braids. Some of these coins are very old and have been passed down in the family. The women often wear many bracelets on their wrists.

Like the men, the women have markings on their faces around their eyes and mouths that they were given as children. The Western Fulbe in countries like Mali, Senegal and Mauritania use indigo inks around the mouth, resulting in a blackening around the lips and gums.

Fulani men are often seen wearing solid-colored shirt and pants which go down to their lower calves, made from locally grown cotton, a long cloth wrapped around their faces, and a conical hat made from straw and leather on their turbans, and carrying their walking sticks across their shoulders with their arms resting on top of it. Often the men have markings on either side of their faces and/or on their foreheads. They received these markings as children. Fula ethics are strictly governed by the notion of _pulaaku_. Women wear long robes with flowery shawls. They decorate themselves with necklaces, earrings, nose rings and anklets.


Fula are primarily known to be pastoralists , but are also traders in some areas. Most Fula in the countryside spend long times alone on foot, and can be seen frequently parading with their cattle throughout the west African hinterland , moving their herds in search of water and better pasture. They were, and still are, the only major migratory people group of West Africa, although the Tuareg people , another nomadic tribe of North African origin, live just immediately north of Fula territory, and sometimes live alongside the Fulani in countries such as Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. The Fulani, as a result of their constant wandering of the past, can be seen in every climatic zone and habitat of West Africa, from the deserts of the north, to the derived savannah and forests of the south.

From the 16th to 20th centuries many Fulani communities settled in the highlands of the Jos Plateau , the Western High Plateau of Bamenda, and Adamawa Plateau of Nigeria and the Cameroons. These are the highest elevated places in West Africa, and their altitude can reach up to 8,700 feet above sea level. The highland plateaus have a more temperate climate conducive for cattle herding activities, which allowed Fulbe populations to settle there in waves of migrations from further west. Though most Fula now live in towns or villages, a large proportion of the population is still either fully nomadic, or semi-nomadic in nature.

Wealth is counted by how large the herd of cattle is. Long ago Fulani tribes and clans used to fight over cattle and grazing rights. Being the most treasured animal that the Fulanis herd, the cows are very special. Many people say that a person cannot speak Fulfulde if he does not own a cow. The Fulani have a tradition of giving a _habbanaya_ - a cow which is loaned to another until she calves. Once the calf is weaned it is retained and the cow is returned to its owner. This habbanaya is a highly prized animal. Upon receipt of this gift, there is a special ceremony in honor of the gift. The recipient buys special treats and invites his neighbors for this event in which the habbanaya is given a name. The habbanaya is never to be struck under any circumstance. An N'Dama herd in West Africa

Fulani nomads keep various species of cattle, but the zebu is the most common in the West African hinterland, due to its drought resistant traits. In the wetter areas of Fouta Djallon and Casamance, the dwarf N\'Dama is more common, as they are highly resistant to trypanosomiasis and other conditions directly associated with high humidity. Subspecies of zebu include the White Fulani cattle , locally known as the Aku, Akuji, Bororoji, White Kano, Yakanaji or Bunaji, which are an important beef breed of cattle found throughout the area conquered by the Fulani people and beyond in the Sahel zone of Africa.

The Red Fulani cattle , which are called the Jafun French : _Djafoun_ in Nigeria and Cameroon, and Fellata in Chad, as well as other names such as the M'Bororo, Red Bororo, or Bodaadi, another subspecies is the _ Sokoto Gudali_ and the _Adamawa Gudali_ or simply _Gudali_, which means "horned and short legged" in the Hausa language. The widely accepted theory for the origin of present-day zebu cattle in West Africa is that they came from the westward spread of the early zebu populations in East Africa through the Sudan. Other breeds of zebu are found mainly in the drier regions. Their body conformation resembles the zebu cattle of eastern Africa. The zebu did not appear in West Africa until about 1800. The increasing aridity of the climate and the deterioration of the environment in the Sahel appear to have favoured the introduction and spread of the zebu, as they are superior to longhorn and shorthorn cattle in withstanding drought conditions.

The origins and classification of the Fulani remains controversial; one school of thought is of the opinion that the Fulani cattle are truly long-horned zebus that first arrived in Africa from Asia on the east coast; these are believed to have been introduced into West Africa by Arab invaders during the seventh century, roughly about the same time that the short-horned zebus arrived into East Africa. This theory is supported by the appearance of the skull as well as the thoracic hump of the Fulani cattle.

Another school of thought contends that these cattle originated from the Horn of Africa, present-day Ethiopia and Somalia, and that interbreeding between the short-horned zebu (which arrived in the Horn around the first millennium BC) and the ancient Hamitic Longhorn and/or _B. taurus brachyceros_ shorthorn (which had arrived much earlier) occurred in the Horn about 2000–1500 BCE. The subsequent successive introductions of the short-horned zebu are believed to have displaced most sanga cattle into southern Africa.

During this period of constant movement of people and animals within Africa, some of these sanga cattle probably intermixed with the short-horned, thoracic-humped cattle to produce the thoracic-humped sanga. The latter may have migrated, most probably along with the spread of Islam, westerly to constitute what are today the lyre-horned cattle of West and Central Africa, including the Fulani cattle. Originally the White Fulani were indigenous to north Nigeria, southeast Niger and northeast Cameroon, owned by both Fulani and Hausa people. They then spread to southern Chad and western Sudan.

Every year, in the Malian town of Diafarabé , Fulani men cross the Niger River with their cattle, in an annual cycle of transhumance. This annual festival is known in the local Fulfulde as the _Dewgal_. Since the founding of the village in 1818, it has always been the most important Fulani festival. It takes place on a Saturday in November or December; the day is carefully chosen based on the state of pastures and the water levels in the river Niger. During the rainy season, the river swells, and the areas around the village are inundated in water, as the level of the river Niger rises, and turns Diafarabe into an island. The cattle are kept on the lush fields up north or south, but when the West African Monsoon subsides and the drier season returns, the water level drops and the cattle can return home again.

The crossing is more than a search for pastures; it is also a competition to show craftsmanship as a herdsmen. The cattle are driven into the river, and each herder, with no help from others, loudly encourages the animals to move forward as he stands or swims between them, holding on to the horns of the bulls. The smaller animals don’t have to swim, but are lifted into pirogues . When all the cattle are back, they are judged by a panel, which decides whose animals are the "fattest". That herder is awarded “best caretaker”, and he is awarded by the community. The worst caretaker ends up with a shameful “prize” – a peanut.

Besides being a competition of herdsmanship, it is also a social event; the herdsmen return after having been away for the most part of the year and they meet their family and friends again. It is a time for celebration. The women decorate their house with woven mats and paint the floor with white and black clay, braid their hair with very intricate patterns, and dress up for their husbands and loved ones. Impressed by the cultural significance attached to the annual event, UNESCO included it on its list of world cultural heritage events.


Fulani dancers in their full traditional regalia.

The Fula have a rich musical culture and play a variety of traditional instruments including drums, _hoddu _ (a plucked skin-covered lute similar to a banjo), and _riti_ or _riiti_ (a one-string bowed instrument similar to a violin), in addition to vocal music. The well-known Senegalese Fula musician Baaba Maal sings in Pulaar on his recordings. _Zaghareet_ or ululation is a popular form of vocal music formed by rapidly moving the tongue sideways and making a sharp, high sound.

Fulani music is as varied as its people. The numerous sub-groups all maintain unique repertoires of music and dance. Songs and dances reflect traditional life and are specifically designed for each individual occasion. Music is played at any occasion: when herding cattle, working in the fields, preparing food, or at the temple. Music is extremely important to the village life cycle with field cultivation, harvest and winnowing of millet performed to the rhythm of the songs and drums.

Fulani herders have a special affinity for the flute and violin _nianioru_. The young Fulani shepherd like to whistle and sing softly as they wander the silent savannah with cattle and goats. The truly Fulani instruments are the one-string viola of the Fulani (nianioru), the flute, the two to five string lute _hoddu_ or _molo_, and the _buuba_ and _bawdi_ set of drums. But they are also influenced by the other instruments of the region such as the beautiful West African harp, the kora, and the balafon. Entertainment is the role of certain casts. The performance of music is the realm of specialized casts. The Griots or _Awlube_ recite the history of the people, places and events of the community.


Fulani calabashes used for butter and milk storage and as containers for hawking

_Kossam_ can be the general term for both fresh milk miradam and yoghurt known as _pendidan_ in Fulfulde. It is central to Fulbe identity and revered as a drink or in one of its various processed forms, such as yoghurt and cheese. _Kettugol_ and _lébol_ are derived from milk fat, are used in light cooking and hair weaving. It is common to see Fulani women hawking milk products in characteristic beautifully decorated calabashes balanced on their heads. Other meals include a heavy grease _(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.

Another popular meal eaten by almost all Fulani communities is made from fermenting milk into yoghurt and eaten with corn couscous known as _latchiiri_ or _dakkere_, either in the same bowl or separately, also a fluid or porridge called _gāri_ made of flour cereals such as millet, sorghum or corn and milk. The Wodaabe traditionally eat millet, milk and meat as staples. Millet is eaten in the morning, noon and night as a grease with a sauce or stew which usually contains tomatoes, peppers, bone, meat, onion, and other vegetables. On special occasions they eat meat such as goat or beef. A thick beverage similar to the Tuareg _eghajira_ is made by pounding goat cheese, milk, dates and millet.


Traditionally, nomadic Fula live in domed houses known as a _bukkaru_ or _suudu hudo_, literally "grass house". During the dry season, the characteristically hemisphere-shaped domed houses are supported by compact millet stalk pillars, and by reed mats held together and tied against wood poles, in the wet or rainy season. These mobile houses are very easy to set up, and dismantle, as typical of houses from nomadic societies. When it is time to move, the houses are easily disassembled and loaded onto donkeys, horses or camels for transport. With recent trends however, many Fula now live in mud or concrete block houses.

Once they are set up, the room is divided into a sleeping compartment, and another compartment where calabashes and guards of all sizes are intricately arranged in a stack according to their sizes and functions. Spoons made from gourda are hung from the rooftop, with others meant for grain storage.


The paternal lineages of the Fula/Fulɓe/Fulani tend to vary depending on geographic location. According to a study by Cruciani et al. (2002), around 90% of Fulani individuals from Burkina Faso carried haplotype 24, which corresponds with the haplogroup E1b1a that is common in West Africa. The remainder belonged to haplotype 42/haplogroup E-M33 . Both of these clades are today most frequent among Niger-Congo -speaking populations, particularly those inhabiting Senegal . Similarly, 53% of the Fulani in northern Cameroon bore haplogroup E-M33, with the rest mainly carrying other Sub-Saharan clades (12% haplogroup A and 6% haplogroup E1b1a). A minority carried the West Eurasian haplogroups T (18%) and R-M173 (12%). Mulcare et al. (2004) observed a similar frequency of haplogroup R1 subclades in their Fulani samples from Cameroon (18%).

A study by Hassan et al. (2008) on the Fulani in Sudan observed a significantly higher occurrence of the West Eurasian haplogroup R-M173 (53.8%). The remainder belonged to various Afro-Asiatic associated haplogroup E1b1b subclades, including 34.62% E-M78 and 27.2% E-V22 .

Bučková et al. (2013) similarly observed significant frequencies of the haplogroups R1b and E1b1b in their pastoralist Fulani groups from Niger . E1b1b attained its highest frequencies among the local Fulani Ader (60%) and R1b among the Fulani Zinder (~31%). This was in sharp contrast to most of the other Fulani pastoralist groups elsewhere, including those from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali and Chad . All of these latter Fulani communities instead bore over 75% West African paternal haplogroups.


In contrast to their heterogeneous paternal lineages, the Fulani largely cluster maternally with other Niger-Congo populations. Only 8.1% of their mtDNA clades were associated with West Eurasian or Afro-Asiatic groups (J1b, U5, H, and V):

According to Mark S. Miller, a study of four Fulani nomad populations (n = 186) in three countries in the Sahel (Chad, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso), the only group of nomadic Fulani that manifests some similarities with geographically related agricultural populations (from Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria) comes from Tcheboua in northern Cameroon.


According to Tishkoff et al. (2009), the Fulani's genomic ancestry clusters near that of Chadic and Central Sudanic speaking populations. Based on this, the researchers suggest that the Fulani may have adopted a Niger-Congo language at some point in their history while intermarrying with local populations. Additionally, low to moderate levels of West Eurasian admixture was also observed in the Fulani samples, which the authors propose may have been introduced via the Iberian peninsula .


A large number of Fula/Fulani people or people of Fula/Fulani descent have made great contributions to their communities and the rest of the world.

* Modibo Mohammed Al Kaburi He was a prolific 15th century scholar who immigrated from Kabara to Timbuktu. He established the cirriculum at Sankore University that produced many esteemed scholars, he taught both Umar ibn Muhammad Aqit, and Sidi Yahya. * Karamokho Alfa - religious leader who led a jihad that led to the formation of Futa Jallon , Guinea * Ibrahim Sori _Mawdo_ (The Elder) - Religious Leader and Second Almaami of Futa Jalon , Guinea * Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori (c.1762-1829) - Son of Ibrahim Sori Mawdo of Futa-Jallon. Enslaved but freed and repatriated to Liberia. * Sulayman Bal (1726-1776)- Islamic scholar and war commander from the Futa Toro in Senegal * Omar Ibn Said (c.1770-1864)- Islamic scholar from Futa-Toro. Taken as a slave to North Carolina in 1807. Wrote a slave narrative in Arabic professing his Islamic faith. * Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (also known as Job ben Solomon) - Trader, then slave. Freed and repatriated to his homeland in Boundou , Senegal * Ira Frederick Aldridge - stage actor, claims to have descended from the Fulani princely line, USA * Yarrow Mamout (or Mahmoud or Mamood or Muhammad Yaro) - slave,Financier, Guinea, USA * Bilali Document - slave, Guinea, USA * Usman dan Fodio (1754-1817)- Famous Islamic scholar from Sokoto , Nigeria. Spiritual leader of the Sokoto Caliphate * Sékou Amadou (1775-1846)- founder and first Shaykh of the Maasina Empire in 1817. * Muhammed Bello (1781-1837)- Second Sultan of Sokoto in Nigeria * El Hadj Umar Tall (1797-1864) - religious leader from the Tijani Sufi Order from Senegal. Founder of the Toucouleur Empire * Ahmadou Tall (1836-1897) - Second Sultan of the Toucouleur Empire * Modibbo Adama - Islamic Scholar and first emir of Adamawa (Both Cameroon and Nigerian Adamawa) * Boubacar Biro -Last independent Almamy of Fuuta Jalon , Resistance hero to French invasion, Guinea * Maba Diakhou Ba - religious leader, Nioro Senegal * Ahmadou Bamba Ba - religious leader, Senegal * Baréma Bocoum - former foreign minister of Mali * Ahmadou Ahidjo - first President, Cameroon (1960-1982) * Ahmadu Bello - Sardauna of Sokoto former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria * Amadou Toumani Touré - President of Mali * Ba Mamadou Mbare - former President of the Senate of Mauritania and former acting President of Mauritania,in office 15 April 2009 – 5 August 2009. First black leader of Mauritania * Saifoulaye Diallo - politician, former President of the National Assembly of Guinea * Amadou Boubacar Cissé - politician, Niger * Hama Amadou - politician, President of the National Assembly of Niger * Bello Bouba Maigari - politician, Cameroon * Hama Arba Diallo - politician, diplomat, Burkina Faso * Salif Diallo - politician, Burkina Faso * Benewende Stanislas Sankara - Politician, Burkina Faso * Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo - Secretary General of OPEC, Nigeria * Mohammadu Buhari - President of Nigeria * Umaru Musa Yar\'Adua - President of Nigeria * Shehu Shagari - President of Nigeria * Mohammed Ibn Chambas - Executive Secretary of Ecowas, Lawyer, Politician, Ghana * Baciro Djá - politician, Guinea Bissau * Amina J. Mohammed -Former Minister, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations,Nigeria * Shehu Musa Yar\'Adua - politician, Nigeria * Ibrahim Dabo - Emir of Kano (1819–46), Nigeria * Muhammadu Dikko - Emir of Katsina (1906–44), Nigeria * Ado Bayero - Emir of Kano (1963-2014), Nigeria * Adama Ouane - Administrateur de l'Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), Mali


* Toucouleur people * Jobawa * Sullubawa



* ^ Felicity Crowe; et al. (2010). _Modern Muslim Societies_. Marshall Cavendish. p. 262. ISBN 978-0-7614-7927-7 . CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. (link ) * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Steven L. Danver (2015). _Native Peoples of the World: An Encyclopedia of Groups, Cultures and Contemporary Issues_. Routledge. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-1-317-46400-6 . * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Kays, Stanley J. (2011). _Cultivated Vegetables of the World: A Multilingual Onomasticon_. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 747. ISBN 9086867200 . * ^ "The World Factbook". Cia.gov. Retrieved 2015-08-15. * ^ "The World Factbook". Cia.gov. Retrieved 2015-08-15. * ^ "The World Factbook". Cia.gov. Retrieved 2017-06-29. * ^ "The World Factbook". Cia.gov. Retrieved 2015-08-15. * ^ "The World Factbook". Cia.gov. Retrieved 2017-06-29. * ^ _A_ _B_ David Levinson (1996). "Fulani". _Encyclopedia of World Cultures: Africa and the Middle East, Volume 9_. Gale Group. ISBN 978-0-8161-1808-3 . * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ Richard M. Juang (2008). _Africa and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History_. ABC-CLIO. p. 492. ISBN 978-1-85109-441-7 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Anthony Appiah; Henry Louis Gates (2010). _Encyclopedia of Africa_. Oxford University Press. p. 495. ISBN 978-0-19-533770-9 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Pat Ikechukwu Ndukwe (1996). _Fulani_. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 9–17. ISBN 978-0-8239-1982-6 . * ^ D Group (2013). _Encyclopedia of African Peoples_. Routledge. pp. 85–88. ISBN 978-1-135-96334-7 . * ^ _A_ _B_ David Levinson (1996). "Fulani". _Encyclopedia of World Cultures: Africa and the Middle East, Volume 9_. Gale Group. ISBN 978-0-8161-1808-3 . , Quote: The Fulani form the largest pastoral nomadic group in the world. The Bororo'en are noted for the size of their cattle herds. In addition to fully nomadic groups, however, there are also semisedentary Fulani —Fulbe Laddi— who also farm, although they argue that they do so out of necessity, not choice. * ^ _A_ _B_ Christopher R. DeCorse (2001). _ West Africa During the Atlantic Slave Trade: Archaeological Perspectives_. Bloomsburg Academic. pp. 172–174. ISBN 978-0-7185-0247-8 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Anthony Appiah; Henry Louis Gates (2010). _Encyclopedia of Africa_. Oxford University Press. pp. 495–496. ISBN 978-0-19-533770-9 . * ^ The homonym "_Fulani_" is also used by the Manding peoples, being the diminutive form of the word _Fula_ in their language (with suffix _-ni_), essentially meaning "little Fula". * ^ The letter "ɓ " is an implosive b sound, which does not exist in English, so is replaced by "B." In the orthography for languages of Guinea (pre-1985) , this sound was represented by BH , so one would have written _Fulbhe_ instead of _Fulɓe_. * ^ Mali: People & Society, Burkina Faso: People & Society, Guinea: People & Society, Senegal: People & Society, Niger: People & Society, CIA Factbook (2015) * ^ "Guinea". _ The World Factbook _. Central Intelligence Agency . * ^ Schlee, Gunther; Watson, Elizabeth, eds. (2013-10-15). "Changing Identifications and Alliances in North-east Africa: Volume II: Sudan, Uganda, and the Ethiopia- Sudan Borderlands". ISBN 9781845459635 . * ^ Al-Amin Abu-Manga, Fulfulde in the Sudan: process of adaptation to Arabic (1986), p. 7, books.google.com/books?id=8IYOAAAAYAAJ: "The Fulani in the Sudan are known by the loose generic term 'Fellata'" * ^ "The World Factbook". Cia.gov. Retrieved 2013-12-28. * ^ "Association of Concerned Africa Scholars » Citizenship and Identity in Post-Secession Northern Sudan". Concernedafricascholars.org. Retrieved 2013-12-28. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Edmund Dene Morel (2013). _Affairs of West Africa_. Routledge. pp. 130–133, 136–142. ISBN 978-1-317-72749-1 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Carl Skutsch (2005). _Encyclopedia of the World\'s Minorities_. Routledge. p. 474. ISBN 978-1-135-19388-1 . , Quote: "Fulani oral traditions suggest an origin in Egypt or the Middle East, a common theme in West African Muslim traditions." * ^ Christopher Wise (2009). _Derrida, Africa, and the Middle East_. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-230-61953-1 . Quote: "Al Hajj Sékou Tall, for instance, claims that the Fulani are one of the three “white” ethnic groups of West Africa". * ^ _A_ _B_ Webster, G. W. (1931). "242. Customs and Beliefs of the Fulani: Notes Collected During 24 Years Residence in Northern Nigeria". _Man_. 31: 238. doi :10.2307/2790939 . access-date= requires url= (help ) * ^ Edmund Dene Morel (1968) _Affairs of West Africa_. Library of African Study, Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7146-1702-2 , pages 141–142. * ^ "Time line". Jamtan.com. Retrieved 2013-12-28. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ C.O. Adepegba. "webPulaaku". Retrieved 4 November 2015. * ^ Hrbek, I. (1992). _General History of Africa volume 3: Africa from the 7th to the 11th Century: Africa from the Seventh to the Eleventh Century v. 3 (Unesco General History of Africa (abridged))_. James Carey. p. 67. ISBN 978-0852550939 . * ^ Creevey, Lucy (August 1996). "Islam, Women and the Role of the State in Senegal". _Journal of Religion in Africa_. 26 (3): 268–307. JSTOR 1581646 . doi :10.1163/157006696X00299 . * ^ Fage, John Donnelly (1997). "Upper and Lower Guinea". In Roland Oliver. _The Cambridge History of Africa, Volume 3_. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521209816 . * ^ "History Corner - Peoples of The Gambia: The Fula - Africa.gm - Africa news and information community". Africa.gm. Retrieved 2014-02-27. * ^ David Levinson (1996). "Fulani". _Encyclopedia of World Cultures: Africa and the Middle East, Volume 9_. Gale Group. ISBN 978-0-8161-1808-3 . , Quote: "Their adoption of Islam increased the Fulanis' feeling of cultural and religious superiority to surrounding peoples, and that adoption became a major ethnic boundary marker." * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ Andrea L. Stanton (2012). _Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa: An Encyclopedia_. SAGE Publications. pp. 147–148. ISBN 978-1-4129-8176-7 . * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Songhai Empire, Encyclopædia Britannica * ^ Knut Vikor (2013). Leif Manger, ed. _Muslim Diversity: Local Islam in Global Contexts_. Routledge. pp. 92–93. ISBN 978-1-136-81857-8 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Johnson, Marion (1976). "The Economic Foundations of an Islamic Theocracy - The Case of Masina". _The Journal of African History_. Cambridge University Press. 17 (04): 481–495. doi :10.1017/s0021853700015024 . access-date= requires url= (help ) * ^ _A_ _B_ Walter van Beek (1988). "Purity and statecraft: The Fulani Jihad". _The Quest for Purity: Dynamics of Puritan Movements_. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 149–177. ISBN 978-3-11-011382-2 . * ^ John Thornton (28 April 1998). _Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800_. Cambridge University Press. pp. 91–92, xvii–xix. ISBN 978-0-521-62724-5 . * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/9616/ASC_1268914_030.pdf?sequence=1 * ^ _The Cambridge History of Africa - Google Books_. Books.google.ca. 1975-09-18. ISBN 9780521204132 . Retrieved 2014-02-27. * ^ Lotte Pelckmans (2011) _Travelling hierarchies, Roads in and out of slave status in a central Malian Fulɓe network_, African Studies Centre, Leiden University, African Studies Collection, Vol. 34, ISBN 978-90-5448-105-8 * ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-20. Retrieved 2014-02-03. * ^ _First Find Your Child a Good Mother: The Construction of Self in Two African ... - Paul Riesman - Google Books_. Books.google.ca. 1992. ISBN 9780813517681 . Retrieved 2014-02-27. * ^ "The Cast System". Jamtan.com. Retrieved 2014-02-27. * ^ _Peoples on the Move: Introducing the Nomads of the World - David J. Phillips - Google Books_. Books.google.ca. 2001. ISBN 9780878083527 . Retrieved 2014-02-27. * ^ _A_ _B_ Tamari, Tal (1991). "The Development of Caste Systems in West Africa". _The Journal of African History_. Cambridge University Press. 32 (02): 221–250. doi :10.1017/s0021853700025718 . access-date= requires url= (help ), Quote: "Endogamous artisan and musician groups are characteristic of over fifteen West African peoples, including the Manding, Soninke, Wolof, Serer, FULANI, Tukulor, Songhay, Dogon, Senufo, Minianka, Moors, and Tuareg. Castes appeared among the Malinke no later than 1300, and were present among the Wolof and Soninke, as well as some Songhay and FULANI populations, no later than 1500." * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Marguerite Dupire (1985), A Nomadic Caste: The Fulani Woodcarvers Historical Background and Evolution, _Anthropos_, Bd. 80, H. 1./3. (1985), pages 85-100; Quote: "The woodcarvers associated with the Fulani and neighboring societies in West Africa were nomads. All criteria retained by specialists to defìne a caste group (Berreman, Pitt-Rivers, Vaughan), may be applied to them. This is true even today in spite of their sedentarization and the conversion of certain of them to sculpture. The second part of this study raises the question of the conditions underlying the creation of artisan castes, drawing upon examples taken from agricultural societies, certain of which are state-based (Fulani, Serer of Sine), others of which are more or less acephalous (Marghi, Senufo , Cangin Serer)." * ^ African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (2009). _Rapport Du Groupe de Travail de la Commission Africaine Sur Les Populations/communautes Autochtones : Mission en Republique de Niger 14-24 Février 2006_. IWGIA. p. 41 note 74. ISBN 978-87-91563-48-5 . * ^ Abdoul Aziz Sow and John Angell (1993), Fulani Poetic Genres, Research in African Literatures, Indiana University Press, Vol. 24, No. 2, Special Issue on Oral Literature (Summer, 1993), pages 61-77; Quote: "At the top of the hierarchy are cattle-owning Fulani, Toorobbe (literate marabouts who hold spiritual power), Seebe (members of a warrior caste... (...) The middle of the hierarchy is comprised of the five castes that..." * ^ _First Find Your Child a Good Mother: The Construction of Self in Two African ... - Paul Riesman - Google Books_. Books.google.ca. 1992. ISBN 9780813517681 . Retrieved 2014-02-27. * ^ _Population, Health and Nutrition in the Sahel_. 2012-07-26. ISBN 9781136882845 . Retrieved 2014-02-27. * ^ "The Unreached Peoples Prayer Profiles". Kcm.co.kr. Retrieved 2014-02-27. * ^ Frank Salamone (1997). Junius P. Rodriguez, ed. _The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery_. ABC-CLIO. pp. 333–334. ISBN 978-0-87436-885-7 . * ^ Catherine VerEecke (1994), The Slave Experience in Adamawa: Past and Present Perspectives from Yola (Nigeria), Cahiers d'Études Africaines, Vol. 34, Cahier 133/135, L'archipel peul (1994), pp. 23-53 * ^ Hampshire, Kate (2006). "Flexibility in Domestic Organization and Seasonal Migration Among the Fulani of Northern Burkina Faso". _Africa_. 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Retrieved 2014-02-27. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "Courtship by the river as cows return home - Arts and Culture". africareview.com. Retrieved 2014-02-27. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Chris Caldicott (1996-11-02). "Take me to the river - Travel". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-02-27. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ 15 November 2012 (2012-11-15). "Dewgal (Crossing of the Cattle): a celebration of greener pastures". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 2014-02-27. * ^ "Fulani - Introduction, Location, Language, Folklore, Religion, Major holidays, Rites of passage, Relationships, Living conditions". Everyculture.com. Retrieved 2013-12-28. * ^ Cruciani, Fulvio; Santolamazza, Piero; Shen, Peidong; et al. (May 2002). "A Back Migration from Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa Is Supported by High-Resolution Analysis of Human Y-Chromosome Haplotypes" . _American Journal of Human Genetics_. 70 (1197–1214): 2002. PMC 447595  _. 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* Almanach de Bruxelles (now a paying site) * Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.) (2005): "Adamawa Fulfulde". _Ethnologue: Languages of the World_, 15th ed. Dallas: SIL International. Accessed 25 June 2006. * Ndukwe, Pat I., Ph.D. (1996). _Fulani_. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. * Christiane Seydou, (ed.) (1976). Bibliographie générale du monde peul. Niamey, Institut de Recherche en Sciences Humaines du Niger


* Prof. Mark D. DeLancey\'s Fulbe studies bibliography, accessed 25 March 2008.


* missionafrica.org.uk * Portal of Fulɓe history and culture * Online magazine published/edited in Fulfulde * Online magazine published/edited in Fulfulde *