African People and Tribes of Africa
Stories - Fauna & Flora
- Countries -
Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad,
Population: n/a, also called
Fulbe or Peul
Language: Pulaar, Fulfulde
Neighboring Peoples: Tuareg,
Types of Art: n/a
are a nomadic people who have been influential in regional politics, economics,
and histories throughout western Africa for over a thousand years. They
played a significant role in the rise and fall of the Mossi states in Burkina
and also contributed to the migratory movements of people southward through
Niger and Nigeria into Cameroon. They were also responsible for introducing
and spreading Islam throughout much of western Africa. The height of the
Fulani empire was between the early 1800s and early 1900s. This power was
consolidated under Usman dan Fodio and was centered in northern Nigeria.
Dan Fodio was a devout Muslim who used religious fervor to ignite his troops
to undertake a series of holy wars. Following the early success of Islamic
warriors, non-Islamic Fulani joined ranks with their fellows to form an
extensive and powerful empire.
Economy: Fulani are mainly
nomadic herders and traders. The routes they established in western Africa
provided extensive links throughout the region that fostered economic and
political ties between otherwise isolated ethnic groups. Dairy products
produced from Fulani cattle were traded to sedentary farmers for agricultural
products and luxury items. Fulani traders then traded these luxury items
between various groups along their nomadic routes. Members of individual
Fulani clans often settled down among their sedentary neighbors, intermarrying
and establishing trading contacts for future business transactions.
Political Systems: The two
most significant factors in Fulani political systems are clientage and
competition. In order to gain political office a Fulani man would have
to compete among his fellows for the right to rule. He could show his political
favor by demonstrating that he had a large following in the form of individuals
and families. By agreeing to become the client of a powerful man or family,
a subject would offer tribute in the form of gifts and political support
in exchange for the security of knowing that a person with political power
would be looking out for the interests of the subject.
religion is largely, if not wholly, Islamic. Although there are varying
degrees of orthodoxy exhibited throughout Fulani society, most adhere to
at least some of the basic requirements of the religion. It is usually
the case that the wealthy and powerful are among the most religious, while
those who have fewer resources are less likely to observe their religion
so strictly. Islam has been used to justify the holy jihads that brought
the northern territories of modern day Nigeria under Fulani leadership.
It was not unusual that such political and economic gains would be made
for the Fulani empire in the name of Islam.
on this page are photograph by P.
Vallière and provided by Assou Sagara of SAGA Tours