A cluster profile covering 28 Fula groups in 16 different countries.
They are grouped and named according to their location, occupation and dialect of their widely spoken language. Accordingly, there are five major groups of Fulani: the Fula Toro, Fulakunda, Fulfulde, Fuuta Jalon, and Tukolor.
Physical features such as copper-colored skin, straight hair and noses, and thin lips, suggest a Caucasoid origin, though a long history of intermarriage with other ethnic groups have produced negroid features in many Fulani, the Fulakunda in particular.
Historically, the Fulani are a nomadic people who traveled from one region to another seeking water for their cattle herds. After migrating from North Africa or the Middle East, they gradually spread eastward (over a 1000 year period from A. D. 900 to 1900), from Senegal and Guinea to as far as Sudan. During their wanderings, they conquered many less powerful tribes. Many Fulani completely or partially abandoned their traditional nomadic life in favor of a sedentary existence in towns or on farms among the conquered peoples. Today, some seven million Fulani cling to the nomadic lifestyle, while up to twenty million have settled to a semi-nomadic, village, or city way of life.
What are their lives like?
During the dry season, the Fulani practice the nomadic part of their existence. Rather than endangering the exhaustion of the village water supply, the young men leave the older men, the women, and the children in the village and take the cattle on a search for alternative water supplies until the rainy season approaches. These nomadic bands camp in portable shelters of poles or branches covered with straw, leaves, or mats.
Although most Fulani are illiterate, parents often send children to a village school where they learn to pray and recite parts of the Koran, as the Fulani are almost entirely Muslim. Despite their lack of book knowledge, they are respected social analysts. They place high value on storytelling and proverbs, which attempt to teach valuable lessons about life.
What are their beliefs?
The Fulani have numerous taboos, rules which are never to be broken. One of the fore- most of these is a taboo against speaking the name of spouses, parents, parents-in-law, first sons, or first daughters. They also follow Islamic dietary laws, and refuse to eat goat meat for fear of becoming lepers.
What are their needs?
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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