The Fula Macina of Mali
Many centuries ago, the vast number of Fulani tribes emigrated from northern Africa and the Middle East into Central and West Africa. Today, most of them are nomadic shepherds who travel with their flocks, always searching for better grazing land. The Sahara Desert forms their northernmost boundary, while the tsetse flies limit their movement to the south. Over the years, some of them have moved from being exclusively shepherds, to being scholarly, influential leaders in their communities.
The Fulani tribes are grouped and named according to their locations, occupations, and dialects. The Fula Macina are a branch of Fulani living in the Macina district of central Mali and northern Burkina Faso. They have lighter skin, thinner lips, and straighter hair than other African groups that live near them. This suggests that they are of Caucasian origin. They speak Masina (or Fulfulde), a Niger-Congo language.
What are their lives like?
The hot, tropical climate of the Macina district provides wet and dry seasons, and these seasons dictate the lifestyle of the Fula. They are a semi-nomadic people, mixing farming with shepherding. During the dry season, which lasts about four months, the young men usually move the herds of cattle, sheep or goats to the flood plains in search of better grazing land. They camp in portable shelters made of poles or branches covered with straw, leaves, or mats.
While the young men are migrating with the herds, their wives, and the younger children stay at the homestead with the family elders, tending to the gardens. They raise a variety of vegetables, but their staple crops are rice and millet. A few animals such as horses, donkeys, chickens, and dogs also live on the farms.
In the wet season, the herds and the families remain in the villages. Villages are made up of extended families who form a compound. Their homes are made of flexible poles and a center post supporting a thatched roof. Around every compound is a thorn fence. Each of the Fula bands, whether nomadic or settled, is governed by an elder. The elder answers to a village chief who lives in the center plaza of the village.
The herds are a very important asset to the Fula. Milk from the cattle and goats provides the main portion of their diet. Butter is made and also sold at the markets. Meat is only eaten at important festivals or ceremonies. The Fula raise both the long-horned, humpless cattle and the short-horned, humped cattle. Two types of sheep are also bred: one with hair and one with wool. The wool sheep are important for trade, and indicate the economic status of their owners.
Like other rural areas in Mali, the Macina district is divided into castes (rigid social classes). There are freemen (Fulani) and Rimaibe (African slaves or serfs). The serfs are owned by the state and work on farms.
The Fulani have a strong concept of beauty, and believe it to be a distinguishing feature between them and other African groups. Mothers try to lengthen their children's noses by pressing them hard between their fingers. Babies head shapes are also altered to make them rounder.
What are their beliefs?
The Fula Macina are 95% Muslim. Children are taught religious fundamentals in Islamic schools. However, they are taught the importance of being a Fulani by the elders, who thrive on spreading Fulani stories and traditional culture to the next generation. To the Fulani, children are the future. They do not believe in an afterlife, so children are the only means by which they can live on from generation to generation. They believe that through their sons, their names and features will remain. If a Fulani dies with no children, it is as if he dies twice.
What are their needs?
Portions of the Bible have already been translated into Masina. Christian broadcasts and the Jesus film are also available. There are currently 11 missions agencies working among the Fula Macina; however, less than one percent of the people have accepted Christ. Much prayer is needed to break the Islamic stronghold that is over their lives.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Mali and share Christ with the Fula Macina.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will give the missions agencies creative strategies for evangelizing the Fula Macina.
- Ask God to use the Fula Macina believers to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio among the Fula Macina.
- Pray that the Lord will call forth teams of intercessors who will faithfully stand in the gap for the Fula Macina.
- Ask the Lord to begin revealing Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Fula Macina bound.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Fula Macina by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Fula Macina
- Country: Mali
- Their language: Masina
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 8,277
- Scriptures in their own language: Portions
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 11
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 370,400 (35%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 664,300 (65%)
- Country: Mali
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 18
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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