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Title: Fulani  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Culture of Nigeria, Takoba, Burantashi, Brimah, Alieu, Muhammadu Junaidu, Kilba people, Muhammad al-Maghili, Dunama IX Lefiami, Ibrahim IV of Bornu
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"Fulani" redirects here. For other uses, see Fulani (disambiguation).
Fula, Fulani Fulɓe
Total population

ca. 38 - 40 million[1]

Greatest concentrations in:

Nigeria, Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
Regions with significant populations
 Nigeria: 15.3 million[2]
 Guinea: 4.6 million[3]
 Senegal: 3.2 million[4]
 Mali: 2.5 million[5]
 Cameroon: 2.5 million[6]
 Sudan: 1.9 million[7]
 Burkina Faso: 1.7 million[8]
 Niger: 1.7 million[9]
 Mauritania: 700,000[10]
 Benin: 450,000[11]
: 333,000[12]
 Gambia: 320,000[13]
 Sierra Leone: 310,000
 Chad: 285,000[14]
 Central African Republic: 265,000[15]
Africa Other:

Millions in: Eritrea, Gabon, Togo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia, Egypt,

Morocco, Algeria, Libya
Fula language
Related ethnic groups
Serer, Tuareg

Fula people or Fulani or Fulbe (Fula: Fulɓe; French: Peul; Hausa: Fulan; Portuguese: Fula; Wolof: Pël; Bambara: Fulaw) are the largest Migratory ethnic group in the world. They are among the "Super" ethnic groups of Africa with members numbering 30 Million and Above, alongside the Hausa, Yoruba, Oromo and Igbo. They are an ethnic group spread over many countries, predominantly in West Africa and Northern parts of Central Africa, but also in Sudanese North Africa. Overall, the territory and range of where Fulani people can be found, is significantly larger than the United states and Western Europe in area.[16] Being one of the most widely dispersed and culturally most diverse people of the African continent, Fulani culture comes in a myriad of different expressions in clothing, Music, and lifestyle. However, they are bound together by a common language and some basic elements of Fulbe culture, such as the "'Pulaaku'". African countries where they are present include Mauritania, Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, the Gambia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger, Chad, Togo, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan the Central African Republic, Liberia, and as far East as the Red sea in Sudan, Eritrea and Egypt. Some Fulani artefacts created by fulbe communities in Eritrea, are currently displayed in the British Museum collections, some of these artworks, include Calabash or Gourd vessels, intricately decorated in deep carvings of black, very similar to same sort of craft, made by their pastoral brethren from further West[17] Fula people form a minority in every country they inhabit, except in Guinea where they are the largest ethnic group, representing some 40% of the population[18]

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 Senegal and Southern Mauritania, the Macina inland Niger river delta system around Central Mali, especially in the regions around Mopti and the Nioro Du Sahel in the Kayes region, The Borgu settlements of Benin, Togo and West-Central Nigeria, The Areas occupied by the Sokoto Caliphate, which Includes what is now Southern Niger and Northern Nigeria: this includes areas and regions 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. 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 Fulbe Hegemonic dominance in West Africa. In this area, 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,[19] 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 and in western Eritrea. In Sudan they are known as Takrir (sing. Takruri). They are also known as Fellata a term given to them by the Kanuri people. They number close to 2 millions in Sudan, while in Eritrea that number is significantly less. However, the Tekruris have been part of the Eritrean society for hundreds of years.[20][21] Living mostly in western Eritrea, they had their own quarters in the towns, called Hillet Tekhwarir.


There are also 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.[22] Fula, from Manding languages, is also used in English, and sometimes spelled Fulah or Fula. 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,[23] which some people use. In Portuguese, the terms Fula or Futafula are used. The terms Fallata Fallatah or Fellata are of Kanuri origins, and is often the name by which Fulani people are identified by in Sudan, and the Arabian peninsular countries.

Related groups

Fula society in some parts of West Africa features the "caste" divisions typical of the region. In Mali and Senegal for instance, those who are not ethnically Fula have been referred to as yimɓe pulaaku (people of the Fula culture). This caste system however, is not followed in places like northern Nigeria or Cameroon, where in many cases the Fulani and Hausa have intermixed and taken influences from each other's cultures. (See Hausa-Fulani.) This phenomenon is not seen outside the eastern subregion of West Africa, and in places like Mali or Guinea, cultures between the Fulani and different groups are kept distinct.

One closely related group is the Tukolor (Toucouleur) in the central Senegal River valley, who had a strong kingdom paying a negotiated 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.[24] In-between groups are the Fula-speaking fishermen and handcraftsmen. These groups are often collectively referred to (together with Fulɓe of the region) as Haalpulaar (Fula: Haalpulaar'en, literally "Pulaar-speakers"). The Wodaabe (Fula: Woɗaaɓe), are a subgroup of the Fula people.

Another related people group, are The Wasulu People, who are partly ethnic Fulani living in areas of West Africa that constitutes parts of Côte D'Ivoire, Guinea, and Mali. They live in a region that expands from the southwest corner of Mali, to the northwest corner of Côte D'Ivoire, and the northeast part of Guinea. The Wasulu settled among the Maninka (in the north eastern corner of Guinea and the southwestern corner of Mali). It is believed that they setted in Yanfolila and surrounding areas between the 11th and 14th centuries AD. They eventually adopted the language and culture of the surrounding Maninka and Bambara. The Wasulu now speak the Bambara language with a mixture of Malinké which is called Wasalunkan. Many of the Wasulu are farmers, with cotton being their main crop. Islam was introduced among the Wasulu in the late 1800s. Like their Fulani brethren, The Wasulu are almost 100% Muslim. The super star, internationally known singer Oumou Sangare is originally from the Wasulu group of Mali[25]

Traditional livelihood

The Fulani are traditionally a nomadic, pastoralist, trading people, herding 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, spreading over several territories, larger than the continental united states in size. The Fulani follow a code of behavior known as Pulaaku, consisting of the qualities of patience, self control, discipline, prudence, modesty, respect for others (including foes), wisdom, forethought, personal responsibility, hospitality, courage, and hard work.

Fulani shepard

Origins and spread

Various theories have been postulated regarding the origins of Fulani people. The ethnogenesis of the Fulani people however, seems to have begun as a result of interactions between an ancient North African Berber population, and a sub-Saharan one, in the areas around the bend of the Niger river. As a people of combined North African or Middle Eastern, as well as Sub-Saharan African origins. Originating from the area near the upper Niger and 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 sixteenth century the Fula expanded through the sahel grasslands, stretching from what is today Senegal to Sudan, with eastward and westward expansion being led by nomadic groups of cattle breeders or the Fulbe 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 Fulbe Wuro. Fulani towns were a direct result of a nomadic heritage, and were often founded by individuals who simply chosen to settle in a given area instead of continue on their way.

Settled and nomadic Fulani began to be seen as separate political entities, each group ruled by a different leader. The first leader to emerge for the nomadic Fulani in the plains between the Termes and Nioro was Tenguella Koli, who objected to the control the Songhai Empire exercised over the homelands of Ancient Ghana. Primarily objecting to the Songhai rule of Askia Muhammad, because it limited available land for grazing, Tenguella led a revolt against the empire in 1512. He was killed in battle with an army led by the brother of Askia Muhammad near Diara during the same year. The rebellion against Songhai rule continued, however, when Tengualla's son, Tengualla Koli, led his father's warriors across the Upper Senegal River and into Badiar, a region north-west of the Futa Jallon Mountains. Once in Badiar, he was joined by many Mandinka soldiers, who had rallied to his cause and embraced him as a relative of their leader, the emperor of Mali. The combined forces of the Fulani and the Mandinka continued onward to Takrur, an ancient state in Futa Toro. There they subdued the Soninke chiefs in power and set up a new line of kings in 1559.

In Nigeria, the Fulani are often categorized with the Hausa as a conglomerated ethnic group Hausa-Fulani. Following the Fulani War, their histories in the region have been largely intertwined. Outside Nigeria, the two groups are usually considered distinct and are different as a matter of fact.

The Fulani were the first group of people in West Africa to convert to Islam through jihads, or holy wars, and were able to take over much of the Sahel region of West Africa and establish themselves not only as a religious group but also as a political and economical force.

In the 9th century they 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 valley[26][27] although John Donnelly Fage suggests that Takrur was formed through the interaction of Berbers from the Sahara and "Negro agricultural peoples" who were "essentially Serer".[28]

The Earliest evidence that shed some light on the pre-historic Fulani culture can be found in the Tassili n'Ajjer rock art Fulani's artifacts, which seem to depict the early life of the people date back to thousands of years (6000B.C). Examination of these rock paintings suggests the presence of proto-Fulani cultural traits in the region by at least the fourth millennium B.C. 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 hermaphroditic cow. 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.[29]

Effects of Expansion

The rise of Tengualla and his son led to three major shifts in the cultural identity of the Fulani:

* The occupation of Futa Toro caused the Fulani people to be identified as a settled, urban–based community, as opposed to the traditional pastoralist ways that emphasized the nomadic nature of cattle herding. The shift from a nomadic civilization to an urban society mandated changes in agricultural production, settlement building, and water conservation.

* Through the occupation of Futa Toro, the Fulani people came to accept structures of urban authority not traditionally seen in nomadic tribes. For example, urban life necessitated political authority being allocated to chiefs and ruling families.

* The Fulani that occupied Futa Toro held fast to traditional religious beliefs, instead of converting to Islam the prominent religion of the area. Their religious views caused many Muslim traders in the area to relocate to predominantly Muslim areas, leading to a decline in trade and the commercial value of Futa Toro.

Geographical Distribution

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, although situations have changed a lot in recent times, and, a sizable proportion of Fulani people now live in the Heavily Forested Zones to the South, in Countries like Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon, Guinea, The Central African Republic and the DRC, Various Fulbe Subgroups are now found Well within the Forested Southern Quarter of Western and Central Africa. There are approximately 40 million Fulani people. They are considered among the most “widely dispersed and culturally diverse peoples in all of Africa.” 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 Fulbe families who happen to settle down temporarily at particular times of the year, or Fulbe 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. Fulani Communities are sometimes grouped and named based on the areas they occupy. Although within each region, there are even further divisions and sub groupings as well. Below is a list of the main Fulbe Groups.

Main Fula Sub-Groups
Group Country Location
Fulbe Adamawa  Nigeria  Cameroon  Chad  Central African Republic  Sudan Eastern Fulbe
Fulbe Mbororo  Nigeria  Cameroon  Chad  Niger  Central African Republic  Sudan  Democratic Republic of Congo Eastern Fulbe
Fulbe Bagirmi  Central African Republic  Chad Eastern Fulbe
Fulbe Sokoto  Nigeria  Niger Eastern Fulbe
Fulbe Gombe  Nigeria Eastern Fulbe
Fulbe Borgu  Nigeria  Benin  Togo Central Fulbe
Fulbe Liptaako  Mali  Niger  Burkina Faso Central Fulbe
Fulbe Massina  Mali Central Fulbe
Fulbe Nioro  Mali  Senegal  Mauritania Western Fulbe
Fulbe Futa Jallon  Guinea  Sierra Leone Western Fulbe
Fulbe Futa Tooro  Senegal  Mauritania Western Fulbe
Fulbe Fuladu  Senegal  Gambia Western Fulbe

Typically, Fulbe belonging to the same affinity bloc, tend to cluster together in Culture, Customs, and Dialectal Variety. Eastern Fulbe sub groups tend to be more similar to each other than to other Sub-groups, same applies with the most Western groups. Culturally speaking, the Central Fulbe Sub-groups are roughly "In-between" the Western and Eastern Fulani cultural Niches. For example, the Massina Fulbe share similarities both dialectally and culturally to Nigeria/Cameroonian (Eastern), as well as Senegalese/Guinean (Western} Fulbe cultures. 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.

Rise to West African dominance

The rising power of the Fulani led to further Southward and Eastward expansions, coming into direct conflict with the outer reaches of the Oyo Empire, a Yoruba state, the Mossi, the Hausa city states, and the pagan tribes of the Adamawa Highlands. Political expansions in the Eastern Sahel was led by Usman dan Fodio, who led the Fulani to became the leaders of a centralized Fulani Empire. Expansion in this period was often tied to religion, particularly an attempt by many Fulani leaders to reform Muslim practices in the area and bring people to Islam. This period of time also gave rise to the jihad state, a territory that was established by political and religious Muslim leaders who conquered a region by offensive war, invoking Jihad, or "holy war." The rulers of jihad states often assumed the honorific title of Emir, an Arabic title which can mean general as well as prince or governor, or a derivate in a local language.

One of the newly formed Muslim states resulting from religious expansion, the Fouta Djallon, was founded in 1735. Formed when Fulani Muslims decided to rise against the non-Muslim Fulani and the native Djalonke rulers to create a confederation of provinces, Fouta Djallon, was located mainly in present day Guinea, as well as parts of Guinea Bissau, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. Under the rule of Alpha Ibrahima Sory Maoudho, the first Almamy in 1735, it rose to become a major political force with a written constitution and the governance of the area rotating between the 2 main parties: The Soriya and the Alphaya. With the capital Timbo in present day Guinea, the Fouta Djallon state lasted until 1898, when French colonial troops defeated the last Almamy, Bokar Biro Barry. They then dismantled the state and integrated it into their new colony of Rivières du Sud, which became Guinea. see: the Fulani Empire, also known as the Sokoto Caliphate, founded by Usman dan Fodio the Immamate of Fouta Djallon, Massina and others.

Culture, language and Lifestyle

The language of Fulas is called Pulaar or Fulfulde depending on the region, or variants thereof. It is also the language of the Tukulor. It is a language closely related to Wolof and Serer. All Senegalese and Mauritanians who speak the language natively are known as the Halpulaar or Haalpulaar'en, which stands for "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. Among the nomadic Fulani, women in their spare time make handicrafts including engraved gourds, weavings, knitting, Beautifully made covers for Calabashes known as Mbeedu as well as 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. They believe these activities may violate their code of conduct ( Pulaaku ) and bring shame upon them. On the social front, Fulani are currently facing many problems. Drought often reduces their water supply and pasture for grazing cattle, disease may also strike the herds. Increasingly, there is less land available for herding purposes, and conflicts with settled populations have been on the increase. Present-day governments are also curtailing the Fulani movements or trying to force them to settle down. Many Fulani youth have migrated into the big bustling cities of West and Central Africa, which are not within traditional Fulani areas, they migrate to such cities as Lagos, Conakry, Bamako, Douala, Abidjan, Dakar, Free Town, Etc, in search of economic opportunities.[30]

Central to the Fulani people's lifestyle, is a code of behavior known as The Pulaaku or (Laawol FulBe) in Fulfulde, literally meaning the Fulani pathway which are passed on by each generation as high moral values of the Fulbe, which enables them to maintain their identity across boundaries and changes of life style. It is essentially viewed as what makes a person Fulani or "Fulaniness", Pulaaku consists of four basic tenants. 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 pullo 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

With the exception of Guinea (where the Fula make up an ethnic plurality {largest single ethnic group} - or approximately 40%+ of the population), Fulas are minorities in every country they live in (most countries of West Africa and parts of Central and North Africa), so most also speak other dominant languages of the countries they inhabit, making many Fulani bilingual or even trilingual in nature. Such languages include Hausa, Bambara, Wolof, Arabic Etc.

Gallery of some Famous Fulɓe


There are no particular outfits for all Fulani subgroups, dressing and clothing accessories such as ornaments, mostly depend on the particular region.The traditional dress of the Fulbe Wodaabe consists 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, such as in the picture to the left. In Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger, men wear a hat that tapers off at three angular tips, known as a Habakada, 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 isn't uncommon to see the women decorate their hair with bead hair accessories as well as cowrie shells. Also characteristic of Fula tradition is that of women using henna for hand, arm and feet decorations, just like in other similar culture of Africa and the greater Middle East. The Fulani women are very graceful in nature. Their hair is long and is braided into 5 long braids that either hang from their heads or sometimes are looped on the sides. It is common for the 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 enjoy wearing many bracelets on their wrists. 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, Senegal and Mauritania use indigo inks around the mouth, resulting in a blackening around the lips and gums. Fulani men are often seen wearing a solid color of shirt and pants which goes down to their lower calves, made from locally grown cotton, a long cloth wrapped around their faces, while wearing a conical had 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 and anklets [31]


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, they can be seen very 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, another nomadic tribe of North African origin, live just immediately north of Fula territory, and sometimes, side by side 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 of Bamenda and Adamawa Plateau of Nigeria and the Cameroons, these are the highest elevated places in West Africa, and altitude can reach up to 8,700 Feet above sea level. As a result, the highland plateaus have a more temperate climate condusive 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 and how many cattle one has. 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" - that is 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 circumstance.


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 popular 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. The Fulani music is as varied and rich 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 1 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, the balafon. Entertainment is the role of certain casts. The performance of music is the realm of specialized casts. The Griots or Awlube recite history of the people, places and events of the community.


Milk, known as Kossam in Fulfulde, the language of the Fulani, is very central to Fulbe identity. It is revered and loved as a drink or as one of its various processed forms, such as Yoghurt and Cheese. Kettugol is derived from milk fat, and is used in light cooking. It isn't uncommon to see Fulani women hawking around milk products in characteristic beautifully decorated calabashes balanced on their heads. Other meals include, a heavy porridge (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. Read more:.[32] Another popular meal eaten by almost all Fulani communities, is made from Fermenting Milk into Yoghurt and eaten with Corn cous-cous known as Latchiiri or Dakkere, either in the same bowl, or separately. The Fulbe Wodaabe traditionally eat millet, milk and meat as staples. Millet is eaten in the morning, noon and night as a porridge with a sauce or stew which usually contains tomatoes, peppers, bone, meat, onion and water and other vegetables. On special occasions they eat meat such as goat or beef.A thick beverage similar to the Tuareg beverage eghajira is made by pounding goat cheese, milk, dates and millet.


Traditionally, nomadic Fula live in domed houses known as a Bukkaru. During the dry season, the characteristically hemispherically shaped domed houses are supported by compact millet stalk pillars, and by reed mats in the wet or rainy season. 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 gourd are hanged from the rooftop, together with others meant for grain storage. These temporary houses are very easy to make and dismantle, as typical of houses from nomadic societies. With recent trends however, many Fula now live in mud or concrete block houses.

Notable Fulani people by country



  • Dr. Anthony Diallo, Member of Parliament (2000-2010), Minister of Livestock Development (2006-2008), Minister of National Resources and Tourism (2006)


  • Mamadou Tandja, President (1999-2010)
  • Amadou Cheiffou, Prime Minister (1991-1993)
  • Hama Amadou, President of National Assembly (2011- ), Prime Minister ( 1995-1996, 2000-2007)
  • Albadé Abouba, Minister of State for Interior, Public Safety and Decentralization (2002-2004; 2007-2010), Prime Minister ( 09/2009-10/2009)


  • Modibo Adama, Fulani scholar and holy warrior
  • Usman dan Fodio, founder of Sokoto Caliphate
  • Nana Asma’u, scholar, author, and pioneer of women's education, Sokoto Caliphate
  • Umaru Yar'Adua, President (2007-2010), Governor of Katsina (1999-2007)
  • Shehu Shagari, President (1979-1983)
  • Atiku Abubakar, Vice President (1999-2007)
  • Major General Muhammadu Buhari, Head of State (1983–85), Chairman Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (1978), Federal Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources (1976–78), Governor of North-Eastern State of Nigeria(1975–76)
  • Major General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua, Vice President (1976-1979) and Brother of Former Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua
  • Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Under Secretary-General/Special Adviser - Africa in the UN; Minister for External Affairs (1984-1985)
  • Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Central Bank Governor of Nigeria (2009-)
  • Aliko Dangote, richest person of African descent.
  • Dr. Mohammed Shata, Minister of Internal Affairs (2000-2003), Minister of National Planning (1999-2000)
  • Fatimah Tuggar Visual Artist
  • Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Prime Minister (1960-1966)
  • Sir Ahmadu Bello, First Premier of Northern Nigeria (1954-1966)
  • Vice-Admiral Murtala Nyako, Governor of Adamawa State (2007-), Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (1992–93), Chief of Naval Staff ( 1990–92), Governor of Niger State (1976–77)
  • Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa, the traditional ruler/Lamido of the Adamawa Emirate in Adamawa State (2010-)
  • Professor Jubril Aminu, Professor of Cardiology, Senator for Adamawa Central constituency Adamawa State (2003-), Minister of Education, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources (1989–1992)
  • Alhaji Dr. Ado Bayero, Emir of Kano (1963- ), Former Ambassador to Senegal,


  • Mariama Bâ Senegalese author and feminist
  • Daouda Sow, Former head of the parliament
  • Baaba Maal, Composer, singer, head of the band Daande Leñol
  • Omar Ibn Said, Scholar and former slave in America
  • Oumou Sy, Fashion designer
  • Ibrahim Ba, French-Senegalese former football player
  • Mamadou Niang, football player
  • Issa Ba, football player
  • Macky Sall,President of Senegal,former Prime minister of president Abdoulaye Wade
  • Demba Ba, Football player
  • Tidjane Thiam, Ivorian with Senegalese Ancestry,the Chief Executive (CEO) of Prudential plc, the UK-based insurance group, the first black person to lead a FTSE 100 company
  • Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, also known as Job ben Solomon, was a famous Muslim who was a victim of the Atlantic slave trade
  • Omar Sy, French actor with Senegalese Ancestry



Sierra Leone

  • Amadu Wurie, Early Sierra Leonean educationist and politician, Minister of Education (1961-1967)
  • Sir Banja Tejan-Sie,Governor-General (1968-1971), Chief Justice (1967-1968)
  • Amadu Jalloh, Sierra Leonean politician
  • Alimamy Rassin, Sierra Leonean chief during colonial period
  • Dr. Minkailu Bah, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports (2007-)
  • Sulaiman Tejan-Jalloh, Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Minister of Transport and Communications (1996-1997)
  • Abubakarr Jalloh, Former Minister of Mineral Resources
  • Alimamy Jalloh, Sierra Leonean football star
  • Mahmadu Alphajor Bah, Sierra Leonean football star
  • Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh,First Female Chief Justice (2008-), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (2002-2008)
  • Neneh Cherry, Swedish singer-songwriter and rapper of mixed Black African-European descent
  • Dr. Abass Bundu, Minister of Foreign Affairs (1994–1995), Executive Secretary of ECOWAS (1989–1993), Minister of Agriculture (1982–85), Assistant Director of International Affairs and Consultant in Constitutional Law in the Commonwealth Secretariat in London (1975–82)
  • Mariama Jalloh, Singer and Song-writer lives in Germany

Burkina Faso



  • Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, Interim President

See also



General references

  • Almanach de Bruxelles (now a paying site)
  • Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.) (2005): "Adamawa Fulfulde". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 15th ed. Dallas: SIL International. Accessed 25 June 2006.
  • Ndukwe, Pat I., Ph.D. (1996). Fulani. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
  • Christiane Seydou, (ed.) (1976). Bibliographie générale du monde peul. Niamey, Institut de Recherche en Sciences Humaines du Niger

Further reading

  • Prof. Mark D. DeLancey's Fulbe studies bibliography, Accessed 25 March 2008.

External links

  • webPulaaku Portal of Fulɓe history and culture
  • Online magazine published/edited in Fulfulde by Saajo Bah
  • Online magazine published/edited in Fulfulde by Ibrahima Sarr
  • Online magazine in Fulfulde published by Fedde Bamtaare Pulaar in Mauritania
  • Online Magazine published/edited by Ibrahima Ly
  • Fulfulde online paper
  • Fulfulde online news site published/edited by Lewlewal Group Networks
  • KJPF Egypt
  • Online bilingual dictionary authored by Oumar Bah
  • Mini trilingual dictionary of political and legal terminology
  • Mini bilingual dictionary of mathematical terminology
  • Portal of Fulɓe Fuuta Jaloo history and culture
  • based in USA/ published by Pulaar Speaking Association
  • WorldStatesmen - Nigerian Traditional states

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