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The Fula people: The language, Food, Clothing and Marriage


                                       

The Fula people or Fulani or Fulɓe, numbering between 20 and 25 million people in total, are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Sahel and West Africa, widely dispersed across the region. The Fula people are traditionally believed to have roots in peoples from North Africa and the Middle East, who later intermingled with local West African ethnic groups. As an ethnic group, they are bound together by the Fula language and their Islamic religious affiliation, their history and their culture.  
 Their primary occupation is raising livestock. The pure Fulani pastoralist engages in random movement of cattle while the semi-nomadic makes transhumance migration and return to their camps or homes.    

                                                       

The Fulani herdsmen are largely located in the Sahel and semi arid parts of West Africa but due to changes in climate patterns many herdsmen have moved further south into the savannah and tropical forest belt of West Africa. The herdsmen are found in countries such as Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon.

The language
Fula also known as Fulani or Fulah is a language spoken as a set of various dialects in a continuum that stretches across some 20 countries in West and Central Africa.
 Along with other related languages such as Serer and Wolof, it belongs to the Senegambian branch within the Niger–Congo languages, which does not have tones, unlike most other Niger–Congo languages. More broadly, it belongs to the Atlantic geographic grouping within Niger–Congo. It is spoken as a first language by the Fula people ("Fulani", Fula: Fulɓe) from the Senegambia region and Guinea to Cameroon and Sudan and by related groups such as the Toucouleur people in the Senegal River Valley. It is also spoken as a second language by various peoples in the region, such as the Kirdi of northern Cameroon and northeastern Nigeria.

 The Fula language is a language of West Africa, spoken by the Fula people from Senegal to Cameroon and Sudan. It belongs to the Atlantic branch of the Niger-Congo language family. There are many names for the Fula people and their language. The Hausa call them the Fulani, while the Wolof uses Peul and the Mandinka Fula. The Fula call themselves Fulbe (plural), Pullo (singular). Speakers of western dialects call their language Pulaar or Poular, while eastern dialects use Fulfulde.


                       
Food
The Fulani diet usually includes milk products such as yogurt, milk, and butter. Every morning they drink milk or gruel (gari) made with sorghum. Their main meals consist of a heavy porridge (nyiiri) made of flour from such grains as millet, sorghum, or corn with a sauce over it. They eat their porridge with soup (takai, haako) made from tomatoes, onions, spices, peppers, and other vegetables.  Before the meal is prepared women retrieve water from a well a bucket or two at a time and often must carry it on their heads and walk over a mile back to their home.
               
                                         



Clothing
    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.

    Dress codes and styles vary greatly. In general, however, married men and women follow the Islamic dress code, which encourages modesty. The men wear large gowns, trousers, and caps. Women wear wraps and blouses. Nomadic Fulani also wear Islamic dress, but it is not as elaborate and the women do not wear veils. Younger men and women adorn themselves with jewelry and headdresses, and they braid their hair. 

                         
                                      
 Fulani men are often seen wearing a solid color of shirt and pants, a long cloth wrapped around their faces, carrying walking sticks. Often the men have markings on either side of their faces and/or on their foreheads. They receive these markings as children their clothes often have a background color of yellow and/or red. The women enjoy wearing many bracelets on their wrists and, like the men, have markings on their faces around their eyes and mouths that they were given as children.
In central Guinea, the men wear hats with colorful embroidery, whereas in Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger, both men and women wear a typical white or black cotton material gown, embellished with blue, red and green thread embroidery work. The style varies with sex and region.
  

                                            


Marriage
Marriage in this culture is endogamy and not exogamy. Two people from the same lineage are allowed to marry each other. Marriage is usually between cross-cousins and parallel-cousins.
The children are betrothed even before they were born. Caste system and political stratification come into place in their traditional marriage. The reason why marriage is endogamy is to preserve wealth and royal bloodline.
                                       
                                                 
                                    
They practice early marriage and it is mostly arranged by the families. The men marry in their early twenties while the female marry as teenagers. The men are allowed to marry more than one woman so far he has the ability to cater for their needs equally.

The caste systems are the nobility, merchants, blacksmith and slaves of wealthy Fulani OR the Rimbe caste, Neeybe caste and the Jeyaabe caste.


 Members belonging to a caste system are not allowed to members belonging to another. Marriage is expected to be restricted to the caste system. Young and unmarried women also have the freedom to choose their partner. This is done during their dance ceremony, where they sleep with many Fulani men and later pick their choice.

By: Anokye Freda. OMYTV.NET

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