Prayer Profile
The Tukulor of Gambia

[IMAGE] There are approximately 1.1 million Tukulor living in West Africa. While most of them live in the nation of Senegal, about 75,000 can be found in Gambia, where they comprise about 7% of the population. The Tukulor are thought to have descended from the Fulani and the Wolof or Serer tribes. The name "Tukulor" is derived from the word Takrur, which is an Arabic term used to describe an eleventh century realm near the middle Senegal River Valley. Today, the Tukulor are known by a number of names, including Pulaar, Haal Pulaar, and Torobe. They have retained their respective languages, and many are also fluent in Arabic.

Most of the Guinea Tukulor live a rural lifestyle, raising livestock, farming, and fishing. Sadly, a steadily rising population and an unequal distribution of land have resulted in the emigration of large numbers of Tukulor (particularly youth) to the cities in search of better job opportunities.

What are their lives like?
Traditional Tukulor society is divided into four main social classes, each having twelve "castes." Their social life is a mixture of native customs and Islamic traditions. Neither Islam, the effects of colonization, nor the goals of various national leaders have been able to erase the old social divisions.

The torobe are the aristocratic class. The middle class, or rimbe, is made up of fishermen, farmers, tradesmen, and administrators. The middle class also includes the craftsmen, and the lower class includes the freed slaves and the slaves. Social status rarely changes; however, slaves are freed at every third generation. The Tukulor marry within their class divisions, women usually between the ages of 16 and 18, and men between the ages of 25 and 30. Although it is uncommon, a man may have up to four wives. Families are generally large, with an average of six children per family.

Traditional, rural Tukulor villages are small. They have round huts made of clay or rough bricks, with straw roofs. Villages are governed by a group of elders from the aristocratic caste. Dietary staples include rice, millet, sorghum, fish, nuts, and fruit. The average per capita income is only $150 to $200 per year.

Tukulor women often wear large, embedded pieces of wood in the soft lobes of their ears and have two small facial slits near the outside corners of both eyes. Although female genital mutilation is becoming increasingly illegal, over 50% of Tukulor girls from the ages of three to nine undergo this practice in order to be considered "clean" and worthy of marriage.

What are their beliefs?
The Tukulor first accepted Islam in the eleventh century. Traditional Muslim beliefs, such as the nature of man and his destiny after death, play a significant role in the people's outlook on life. Muslim brotherhoods teach a mystical approach to Islam: the people seek closer relationships to God through rituals, prayer, and other techniques. However, Islam has not brought any major changes to Tukulor attitudes toward spiritism and magic. The people still use charms, amulets, and witchcraft. The Tukulor attribute supernatural powers to various Muslim clerics who practice divination, the use of supernatural powers.

What are their needs?
Decreasing income from the sale of agricultural products, encroachment by the Sahara Desert on farm land, deforestation, and increasing population are resulting in extreme financial concerns for the Tukulor. Nearly all village water sources are polluted. Malaria and other infectious diseases inflict a heavy toll each year. Although there is some literacy among the aristocracy, most of the Tukulor are illiterate.

Islam has enormous penetration into every aspect of Tukulor life. A somewhat isolated people with minimal exposure to other religious ideas, the Tukulor view the world and gain their personal identities from their rigid beliefs in the Islamic family and community. They are extremely reluctant to leave the world they know.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agency that is currently targeting the Tukulor.
  • Pray that the Holy Spirit will anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio among the Tukulor.
  • Ask God to give the small number of Tukulor believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Tukulor through dreams and visions.
  • Ask God to save key Tukulor leaders who will share the love of Jesus with their own people.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Tukulor bound.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the spiritual soil of Gambia through worship and intercession.
  • Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Tukulor by the year 2000.

See also:
The Tukulor of Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Tukulor
  • Country: Gambia
  • Their language: Pulaar
  • Population: (1990) 61,500
    (1995) 74,500
    (2000) 86,000
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Malikite) 99.9%
  • Christian: <1%
  • Church members: 22
  • 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: 1
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 24,600 (33%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 2,300 (4%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 22,300 (29%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 49,900 (67%)
  • Country: Gambia
  • Population: (1990) 923,500
    (1995) 1,118,500
    (2000) 1,290,800
  • Major peoples in size order: Mandinka 39.7%
    Gambina Wolof 14.4%
    Fulakunda 13.5%
    Saninke 7.3%
  • Major religions: Muslim 87.8%
    Ethnic religionist 8%
    Christian 3.6%
  • Number of denominations:

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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