Groups - Fulani People by Wayne Kiltz
The Fulani Group are the
largest nomadic group in the world. As a group they contain a vast array
of diverse people who were conquered and became a part of the Fulani through
the spread of Islam. The original Fulani are of North African or Middle
Eastern origin and are characterized by having lighter skin, thinner lips,
and straighter hair. Many Africans know them as "white people". 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 West Africa and
establish themselves not only as a religious group but also as a political
and economical force. The Fulani are a very proud people; they are the
missionaries of Islam and continued to conquer much of West Africa.
Fulani are primarily nomadic herders and traders. Through their nomadic
lifestyle they established numerous trade routes in West Africa. Many times
the Fulani go to local markets and interact with the people, getting news
and spreading it through much of West Africa.
The most important object
in Fulani society is a cattle. There are many names, traditions, and taboos
concerning cattle. The number of cows a person owns is a sign of his wealth.
This has caused significant conflict in recent months between the Fulani
and other ethnic groups. The reason for this conflict is that the cows
will many times go into the fields and eat the grains of local farmers.
As times goes on, the modes
of transportation throughout West Africa have become more modernized. This
modernization in transportation puts the Fulani at risk of losing their
identity as nomads, and forces them to settle in farms and villages. This
often creates other problems, as the Fulani are a very proud people of
a unique culture and are used to ruling over the other people groups.
A distinctive difference
between the Fulani and other African people is that the Fulani have a huge
respect for beauty. Beauty is considered very important and one of the
ways this is shown is through tattoos that are put all over the body. A
distinguishing feature of a Fulani woman is her lips, which are many times
a blackish color from the use of Henna or tattooing done on the mouth.
Being brave and fearless
is also a very important aspect of the Fulani, and that is obvious by their
numerous weapons. The Fulani loans its traditions and expertise to
its people. They are brought up at an early age to respect their weapons.
One tradition is that when two boys reach coming of age, the two boys hit
each other with their spears, not showing any pain but instead laughing.
Many have died in these ceremonies, which are now against the law in many
countries, but continue to be practiced.
The Fulani normally raise
large amounts of cattle and have therefore settled in the large plain areas
of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Guinea. The Fulani hold to a strict caste
system. The four caste subdivisions are the nobility, merchants, blacksmiths,
and descendents of slaves of wealthy Fulani.
About the Author
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