The Fulani Tribe

Africa is a continent of beautiful cultures and people. Today, the spotlight is on the Fulani.

Also referred to as Fula, Fulbe or Peuls, the Fulani are known as the world’s largest nomadic group with about 20 million people dispersed across West Africa. Fulani people live in nearly every country of the West African savanna between Senegal and Cameroon, and while some are nomadic, others are sedentary farmers. Many Fulani raise cattle. 

The Fulani are diverse people, yet they adhere to a code of conduct called “pulaaku,” which embraces patience, wisdom, modesty and courage. They’re also recognized for their “delicate decoration of utilitarian objects such as milk bowls that reflect their nomadic and pastoral lifestyle.”

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fulani were among the first Africans to convert to Islam. Like many African cultures, Fulani help teach children through proverbs and stories passed down generationally. Music and art are part of life, with many playing drums, flutes and horns, and decorative art can be seen in architecture, jewelry, hats and clothes. 

Fulani men participate in a sport called sharro, which is a test of bravery as men enter adulthood. Sharro is a traditional cultural practice where young Fulani men compete to find a wife as a test their endurance. Wrestling, boxing and some western sports have made their way into communities and schools among settled Fulani. 

We believe that the more we know about other cultures, the more we can appreciate the beauty of our differences.

Image: Young woman in a Fulani bapteme ceremony, Atakora Mountains © John Kenny