The Fulani

Essay by jadslilindianA+, May 2004

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The Fulani--A Nomad People

By: Natalie C. Whitney

First I would like to provide some background of the Fulani. The Fulani are very nomadic people, which mean they move around a lot. They are the largest nomadic group in the world. Because they have moved around a lot during their lives they are comprised of many different groups. They are very diverse and special in many ways. They are very proud people and are used to ruling over others. Some Fulani are settling now. The original Fulani are of the North African or Middle Eastern origin. They were the first group in western Africa to convert to Islam through jihads or as we know them, holy wars. Through this way, they took over much of West Africa and established themselves not only as a religious force, but also as a political and economical force. There are approximately 18 million Fulani in the world today.

They span Africa from Lake Chad to the Atlantic Coast. From Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal, The Gambia, and Niger. The Language of the Fulani is called Fula. It is commonly referenced to as an Atlantic language of the Niger-Congo family. Fulani's use the Chad for their currency. When they do settle they often live in huts that they make themselves.

The Fulani are mostly nomadic herders and traders. They often go to local marketers and interact with the people there. That is usually how they get news and often spread news also. The most important objects in Fulani society are cattle. Cattle represent many things about a Fulani member. The number of cows that they own equals their wealth. A man's cattle are treated as an extended family rather than just something for economic purposes. Sometimes their cattle can be a problem.