Fula people or Fulani or Fulany or Fulɓe (Fula: Fulɓe; French:
Peul; Hausa: Fulani or Hilani; Portuguese: Fula; Wolof: Pël; Bambara:
Fulaw), 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 stemming 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
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.
Fulani couple in folk costume
2 Geographic distribution
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
Sokoto Caliphate and its various emirates
4.1 Slavery and caste system
5.1 Traditional livelihood
5.3 Moral code
6 Genomic studies
6.1 MtDNA (maternal)
6.2 Autosomal DNA (overall)
7 Notable Fulanis
8 See also
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.
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
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
southern Mauritania; the Macina inland
Niger river delta system around
Central Mali; and especially in the regions around
Mopti and the Nioro
Sahel in the
Kayes region; the
Borgu settlements of Benin,
West-Central Nigeria; the northern parts of
Burkina Faso in the Sahel
region's provinces of Seno, Wadalan, and Soum; and the areas occupied
Sokoto Caliphate, which includes what is now Southern
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
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,
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,
Dalaba in Guinea, Kaedi, Matam
Senegal and Mauritania, Bandiagara, Mopti, Dori,
Mali and Burkina Faso, on the bend of the
Niger, and Birnin Kebbi, Gombe, Yola, Jalingo, Mayo Belwa, Mubi,
Garoua in the countries of
Nigeria, in most of these communities, the Fulani are usually
perceived as a ruling class.
Main Fulani Sub-Groups, Cluster group and dialectal variety
Chad Central African Republic
Chad Central African Republic
Sokoto (Woylaare) & Adamawa (Fombinaare)
Central African Republic
Central African Republic Chad
Adamawa (Fombinaare) & Bagirmi
Sokoto (Woylaare) - Adamawa (Fombinaare) Transitional
Borgu & Western
Niger Burkina Faso
Niger (Jelgoore) & Massina (Massinakoore)
Pulaar - Fulfulde
Fuua Tooro - Massina (Massinakoore) Transitional
Fulbe Futa Jallon
Guinea Bissau Sierra Leone
Fulbe Futa Tooro
Guinea Bissau Gambia
Pulaar - Pular
Fuuta Tooro - Fuuta Jallon Transitional
Typically, Fulɓe belonging to the same affinity bloc tend to cluster
together in culture, customs, and dialectal variety. Eastern Fulɓe
sub-groups tend to be more similar to each other than to other
sub-groups, and the same applies with most Western groups. Culturally
speaking, the Central Fulɓe sub-groups are roughly in between the
Western and Eastern Fulani cultural niches.
For example, the Massina Fulɓe share similarities both dialectally
and culturally to Nigeria/Cameroonian (Eastern) (Both of which end
interrogative questions with "na?"), as well as Senegalese/Guinean
(Western) Fulɓe cultures (who do not end interrogative questions in
such mannerism). Accordingly, the Western groups are the most
divergent from the Eastern groups and vice versa. Overall however, all
share most cultural practices to a large extent.
Fulani woman from
Niger and man in Nigeria.
The origins of the Fulani people are unclear and various theories have
been postulated. As a nomadic herding people, they have moved through
and among many other cultures. Skutsch notes that their oral histories
point toward a start in
Egypt or farther east, but also that their
language comes from the Senegambian region. He concludes that the
modern Fulani people began in the northern Senegambian region
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
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 era of European
conquest and colonization. In 1902, Edmund Dene Morel equated the
ancient Romans' Leucæthiopes with the people the Tarikh al-Sudan
placed at the head of the
Ghana empire, who (Morel claims the Tarikh
al-Soudan says) were "white" and whose monarch had a Fulfulde
Timeline of Fulani history
Ghana Empire emerges in modern-day southeastern
western Mali, as the first large-scale Sudano-Sahelian empire
Ghana Empire becomes the most important power in West Africa
5th century (?)
The Fulbe migrate southwards and Eastwards from present day Morocco
Takrur, founded on the lower
Senegal River (present-day Senegal), upon
the influx of Fulani from the east and north settling in the Senegal
Kingdoms of Tekruur and the
Gao Empire flourish in
West Africa due to
Almoravids, Berber Muslims from southern Morocco and Mauritania,
attack Takrur, after defeating the
Sanhaja in 1039
Islam gains a strong foothold in West Africa
Almoravids take over Morocco, Algeria, and part of al-Andalus; they
Ghana in 1076 and establish power there.
Almoravids found capital at Marrakesh
The Empire of
Ghana starts to decline in influence and importance
The Almohad Caliphate, ruled by Berber Muslims opposed to the
Marrakesh and go on to conquer Almoravid Spain,
Algeria, and Tripoli
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
Takrur emerge from the shadows of a declining
and themselves set out on a road of conquest, they take its capital
Koumbi Saleh in 1203
Great warrior leader
Sundiata Keita of the
Mandinka people founds the
Mali Empire in present-day Mali, West Africa; it expands under his
Mali absorbs Ghana, Tekruur and the Songhai Empire
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
The Empire of
Mali reaches its height of power, covering much of
Northern West Africa.
Ibn Battuta, Berber scholar, travels across Africa and writes an
account of all he sees
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.
Recorded Fulani presence in Nigeria
Sonni Ali becomes ruler of the
Songhai people and goes on to build the
Mali empire is overshadowed by the Songhai Empire
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
present-day Nigeria) and much of the territory that had belonged to
the Songhai empire in the west
Songhai Empire reaches its zenith and pinnacle of power
Songhai Empire is defeated by invading Moroccans from further North
Another wave of Fulbe migrations sees them penetrate even further in
Senegal and Fouta Jallon highlands of middle Guinea
Fulani people gain control of Bhundu in
Senegal with Malick Sy, and
First unsuccessful Fulani jihad in the Futa Tooro
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
Strong Fulani presence threaten the neighbouring
Bornu Empire of the
Kanuri and Kanembu peoples
Fulani Muslim cleric Alfa Ibrahim appointed Commander of the Faithful
Fuuta Jalon in West Africa
End of first wave of Fulani Islamic Jihads : states of Futa Toro,
Futa Djallon, Wuli and Bhundu in existence
Jihad begins in Haussaland led by Usman dan Fodio; Sokoto
Fulbe horsemen begin attack on the Bornu Empire. The Fulani cavalry is
led by Muhammed Bello, son of Usman dan Fodio
Haussa states completely defeated by Fulani Jihad.
founded by Fulani (present-day Nigeria, Northern Benin, Southern Niger
and Northern Cameroon)
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
Bornu successfully repel Fulani forces. The
Bornu Empire never
recovers from the war, and thus its decline begins
Fulani in Mali, West Africa, found and rule the Massina Empire, under
the leadership of Seku Amadu, with its capital at Hamdullahi
Yoruba state of
Ilorin falls to the
Sokoto Fulani jihad
Sokoto Caliphate reaches its zenith of power
Fulani Toucouleur leader al-Hajj 'Umar launches
Jihad along Senegal
Niger rivers to establish Islamic state. He later takes
Timbuktu in 1853
Macina Empire fell to Toucouleur forces from Fuuta Tooro led by el
Hadj Umar Tall
The French conquer the Fuuta Tooro Empire
The French conquer the
Imamate of Futa Jallon
Imamate of Futa Jallon at the Battle of
Adamawa Emirate is partitioned between German
Kamerun and British
The British conquer the
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
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
John Donnelly Fage suggests that
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
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
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
Ferlo Desert south of the
Senegal River. Finding themselves cut
off from their kinsmen by the other communities now occupying the
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
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
Benue River valley and its tributaries. They spread eastwards
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.
Settlement and Islam
Fula people, with
Arabic and North African roots, adopted
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
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.
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.
Rise to dominance in West Africa
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
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
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
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 formed Immamate, with the 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
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
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
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
The Futanke / Toucouleur Empire
Main article: Toucouleur Empire
Many regard the Futanke or Toucouleur conquest of the western Sudan
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.
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.
Sokoto Caliphate and its various emirates
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
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,
Katsina Emirate, Zazzau Emirate, Hadejia Emirate, and
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
Islam by these emirates. For example, many nomadic Fulbe,
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.
Fulbe woman at the Sangha market,
Fulbe woman at the Sangha market,
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
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.
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.
Slavery and caste system
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
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
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.
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.
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,
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
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
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.
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. 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. The women can also be seen wearing a colorful cloth (modjaare)
around, the waist, head or over one shoulder.
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,
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
Fulani calabashes used for butter and milk storage and as containers
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
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
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
haplogroup E-M33, with the rest mainly carrying other African 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
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%
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 69% - 75% African
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
Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria) comes from Tcheboua in northern
Autosomal DNA (overall)
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
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
Modibo Mohammed Al Kaburi - 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
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
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
Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (also known as Job ben Solomon) - Trader, then
slave. Freed and repatriated to his homeland in Boundou, Senegal
Ira Frederick Aldridge
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
Usman dan Fodio (1754-1817) - Famous Islamic scholar from Sokoto,
Nigeria. Spiritual leader of the
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,
Ahmadu Bello - Sardauna of
Sokoto & Premier of Northern Region of
Mamadou Dia, Senegal
Djibril Tamsir Niane - Guinean historian and playwright
Boubacar Diallo Telli - diplomat and politician, first
Secretary-general of the Organization of African Unity, Guinea
Atiku Abubakar - Vice President of Nigeria
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi - Emir of Kano, former President of Nigeria
Thomas Sankara - President of Burkina Faso
Barry Moussa Barqué - Politician, Minister, Togo
Baba Maal - musician - Senegal
Barry Diawadou - former politician from Guinea
Ibrahima Barry - former politician from Guinea
Macky Sall - President of Senegal
Neneh Cherry (birth name Neneh Mariann Karlsson) - musician, Sierra
Anthony Diallo - politician, Minister of National Resources and
Issa Hayatou - President of the Confederation of African
Abass Bundu - politician, diplomat and educationist, Executive
Secretary of the Economic Community of West African States, Sierra
Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh - Chief Justice, Sierra Leone
Amadou Hampâté Bâ
Amadou Hampâté Bâ - writer and ethnologist, Mali
Addi Bâ or Bah Mamadou Hady - called by the Germans "black terrorist"
("Der schwarze Terrorist"), a figure of the French resistance, member
of the first scrub of the Vosges, Guinea
Tierno Monénembo (real name Thierno Saidou Diallo) - writer, winner
of the Prix Renaudot award in 2008 for his novel The King of Kahel,
Hassan Bubacar Jallow - lawyer, politician and jurist, prosecutor of
the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Chief Justice
of the Gambia since February 2017, Gambia
Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo - politician,
Abdel Kader Baba-Laddé (or General Baba Laddé or Mahamat Abdoul
Kadre) - politician, Chad
Katoucha (Kadiatou Niane) - former model and fashion designer, Guinea
Ibrahim Gambari - Under-Secretary-General /
Special Adviser - Africa
United Nations; former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria
Amadou Toumani Touré
Amadou Toumani Touré - President of Mali
Ba Mamadou Mbare
Ba Mamadou Mbare - former President of the Senate of
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
Adame Ba Konaré - First Lady of Mali, Mali
Aïcha Bah Diallo - Guinean education minister, Guinea
Bello Bouba Maigari - politician, Cameroon
Hama Arba Diallo - politician, diplomat, Burkina Faso
Salif Diallo - Former Minister and former President of National
Assembly, Burkina Faso
Benewende Stanislas Sankara - politician, Burkina Faso
Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo
Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo - Secretary General of OPEC, Nigeria
Mohammadu Buhari - President of Nigeria
Umaru Musa Yar'Adua
Umaru Musa Yar'Adua - President of Nigeria
Shehu Shagari - President of Nigeria
Mohammed Ibn Chambas
Mohammed Ibn Chambas - Executive Secretary of Ecowas, Lawyer,
Baciro Djá - Former Minister and Prime Minister,
Amina J. Mohammed
Amina J. Mohammed - Former Minister, Deputy Secretary-General of the
United Nations, Nigeria
Shehu Musa Yar'Adua - Former Vice President, 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 (fr) - Administrateur Organisation internationale de
la Francophonie (OIF), Mali
Abubakar Olusola Saraki- Politician, Nigeria
Bukola Saraki- Former Governor, Current President of the Senate,
Alhaji Lamrana Bah - Sierra Leonian businessman
Cellou Dalein Diallo
Cellou Dalein Diallo - Former Prime Minister; Opposition Leader,
Isatou Njie-Saidy- Former Vice President, Republic of Gambia
Fatoumata Tambajang- Vice President, Republic of Gambia
Dr.Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh- Vice President, Republic of Sierra Leone
^ Felicity Crowe (2010). Modern Muslim Societies. Marshall Cavendish.
p. 262. ISBN 978-0-7614-7927-7.
^ 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 2016-08-12.
^ "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.
^ a b c d e f Richard M. Juang (2008). Africa and the Americas:
Culture, Politics, and History. ABC-CLIO. p. 492.
^ a b Anthony Appiah; Henry Louis Gates (2010). Encyclopedia of
Africa. Oxford University Press. p. 495.
^ 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
^ 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.
^ 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-
^ 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 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.
^ 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. JSTOR 2790939.
^ Morel, E.D. (1902). Affairs of West Africa. London: William
Heinemann. pp. 130–131, 140–142.
^ "Time line". Jamtan.com. Archived from the original on 2012-11-22.
^ 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.
doi:10.1163/157006696X00299. JSTOR 1581646.
^ 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
^ 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
^ 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
Global Contexts. Routledge. pp. 92–93.
^ 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 (4): 481–495.
^ 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
^ 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,
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African ... - Paul Riesman - Google Books. Books.google.ca. 1992.
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Africa". The Journal of African History. Cambridge University Press.
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"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
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^ Abdoul Aziz Sow and John Angell (1993), Fulani Poetic Genres,
Research in African Literatures, Indiana University Press, Vol. 24,
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(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
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^ Hampshire, Kate (2006). "Flexibility in Domestic Organization and
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^ a b Tor Arve Benjaminsen; Christian Lund (2001). Politics, Property
and Production in the West African Sahel: Understanding Natural
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122, 127–128, 130–131. ISBN 978-91-7106-476-9.
^ Marguerite Dupire (1963), Matériau pour l'étude de l'endogamie des
Peul du cercle de Kedougou (Sénégal oriental), Cahiers du Centre de
recherches anthropologiques, Volume 5, Numéro 3, pages 235-236, 251,
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^ Jean Gallais (1962), Signification du groupe ethnique au Mali,
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^ JH Vaughn (1970). "Caste System in the Western Sudan". In Arthur
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 fulfulde social learning network fulfulde Nigeria,
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fula people.
Portal of Fulɓe history and culture
Online magazine published/edited in Fulfulde
Online magazine published/edited in Fulfulde
Online magazine in Fulfulde
Fulfulde online news sitel
Portal of Fulɓe Fuuta Jaloo history and culture
WorldStatesmen - Nigerian Traditional states
Geerewol, by Sandrine Loncke (Website about Woɗaaɓe ritual
celebrations, with annotated music recordings and short videos
featuring dance and ritual sequences. Supplement to the book of the
Online musical archives dedicated to Fulɓe Jelgooɓe (Burkina Faso)
and Fulɓe Woɗaaɓe (Niger) musics and singings (Telemeta, CREM-CNRS)
Links to related articles
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