My Kemetic Dreams
Fulani
Fula people or Fulani are the largest migratory ethnic group in the world. They are among the superethnic groups of Africa, with members numbering over 30 million and above, alongside the Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. They are an ethnic group spread over many countries, mainly in West Africa and northern parts of Central Africa, but also in Sudan and Egypt. Overall, the territory and range of where Fulani people can be found is significantly larger in area than the United States and Western Europe. Being one of the most widely dispersed and most culturally diverse people on the African continent, Fulani culture comes in a myriad of expressions in terms of clothing, music and lifestyle. However, they are bound together by the common language of Fulfulde and some basic elements of Fulbe culture, such as the pulaaku code of conduct. 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, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan the Central African Republic, Liberia, and as far East as the Red Sea in Sudan and Egypt. 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
Origins
Various theories have been postulated regarding the enigmatic origins of Fulani people. The ethnogenesis of the Fulani people, however, seems to have begun as a result of interactions between an ancient West African population and a North African population in the areas around the bend of the Niger river. They are people of combined West African as well as North African origin. 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 16th 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 Fulɓe 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 Fulɓe 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. This cultural interaction most probably occurred in Senegal, where the closely linguistically related Tukulor, Serer and Wolof people predominate, ultimately leading to the ethnogenesis of the Fulani culture, language and people before subsequent expansion throughout much of West Africa. Another version is that they were originally a Berber speaking people who crossed the Senegal to pasture their cattle on the Ferlo Plateau just to the South of the Senegal rver. Finding themselves cut off from their kinsmen by the Negroid communities now occupying the fertile Senegal valley, they gradually adopted the language of their new neighbours. As their herds increased, small groups found themselves forced to move eastward and further southwards and so initiated a series of migrations throughout West Africa, which endures to the present day.

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 dating back thousands of years (6000 BC). Examination of these rock paintings suggests the presence of proto-Fulani cultural traits in the region by at least the 4th millennium BC. 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.

Fulani

Fula people or Fulani are the largest migratory ethnic group in the world. They are among the superethnic groups of Africa, with members numbering over 30 million and above, alongside the Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. They are an ethnic group spread over many countries, mainly in West Africa and northern parts of Central Africa, but also in Sudan and Egypt. Overall, the territory and range of where Fulani people can be found is significantly larger in area than the United States and Western Europe. Being one of the most widely dispersed and most culturally diverse people on the African continent, Fulani culture comes in a myriad of expressions in terms of clothing, music and lifestyle. However, they are bound together by the common language of Fulfulde and some basic elements of Fulbe culture, such as the pulaaku code of conduct. 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, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan the Central African Republic, Liberia, and as far East as the Red Sea in Sudan and Egypt. 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 Origins Various theories have been postulated regarding the enigmatic origins of Fulani people. The ethnogenesis of the Fulani people, however, seems to have begun as a result of interactions between an ancient West African population and a North African population in the areas around the bend of the Niger river. They are people of combined West African as well as North African origin. 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 16th 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 Fulɓe 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 Fulɓe 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. This cultural interaction most probably occurred in Senegal, where the closely linguistically related Tukulor, Serer and Wolof people predominate, ultimately leading to the ethnogenesis of the Fulani culture, language and people before subsequent expansion throughout much of West Africa. Another version is that they were originally a Berber speaking people who crossed the Senegal to pasture their cattle on the Ferlo Plateau just to the South of the Senegal rver. Finding themselves cut off from their kinsmen by the Negroid communities now occupying the fertile Senegal valley, they gradually adopted the language of their new neighbours. As their herds increased, small groups found themselves forced to move eastward and further southwards and so initiated a series of migrations throughout West Africa, which endures to the present day. 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 dating back thousands of years (6000 BC). Examination of these rock paintings suggests the presence of proto-Fulani cultural traits in the region by at least the 4th millennium BC. 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.
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