The Western Fulani of Niger
Appearing to be of Caucasian origin, many of the Fulani have straight hair, narrow noses, thin lips, and copper-colored skin. The language they speak, Fulfulde Niger, comes from the West Atlantic branch of the Niger-Congo language family.
During the sixteenth century, the Fulani settled in the area occupied by the Hausa in northern Nigeria. The Muslim Fulani attempted to influence the Hausa with Islam, but they resisted and a revolt followed. By 1810, the Fulani gained control over the Hausa and have since maintained power and influence over them.
What are their lives like?
Long-horned cattle are not only prized possessions but are, in fact, a means of survival for the Western Fulani of Niger. Their lives revolve around and are dedicated to their herds. The more cattle a man owns, the more respect he is given. An advanced knowledge of cattle herding is an education desired by all. Their staple food, milk, is obtained from their herds.
A Western Fulani family consists of a father, his sons, their wives and children, and the herds. With each new season they journey—always for the needs of the herds. A man's responsibilities lie in herding, political affairs, treating illness, and planning the next migration. A woman milks the cows and prepares butter and cheese. She is allowed to sell any excess dairy products at the market. She also makes clothing and blankets, gathers firewood, and prepares the daily meals, which usually consist of a millet-based porridge.
The younger Fulani boys help their older brothers with herding. When they reach the age of twelve, they enter sukaabe, or "young adulthood." At this time, they learn the rules of respect, courtesy, and justice, as the Western Fulani are an independent people with a strong moral code.
What are their beliefs?
The Western Fulani are expected to follow a code of high moral behavior. Those who refuse to do so are disowned. Their traditional nomadic heritage extols virtues such as honesty, generosity, and dignity. To be reserved is also a virtue; thus, they are shy and modest in public. A mother does not show affection to her infant son. In fact, she never even calls her firstborn by his name, all throughout his life.
Animal sacrifices play an important role in the ritual celebrations of fatherhood, deaths, marriages, and other formal ceremonial occasions, such as the worso. The worso is an annual celebration held within family groups just before the rainy season. Among other things, firstborn sons are honored, and marriages are acknowledged. The men arrive on camels and are dressed in their finest attire. Women arrive on donkeys and show off their wedding ceremonial gifts and their most prized belongings.
What are their needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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