Introduction / History
The Fulani are a vast people group that immigrated from North Africa or the Middle East to West and Central Africa many centuries ago. They are nomadic shepherds who migrate with their herds. They are lighter-skinned, have straighter hair and noses, and have thinner lips than other African groups, which suggests that they are of Caucasian origin. The Fulani take great pride in distinguishing themselves from non-Fulani tribes.
Today, the Fulani are grouped and named according to their locations, occupations, and dialects. The Togo Fulani are those Fulani living in the northern regions of Togo, who emigrated from Benin. They are Bororo, or nomadic herdsmen, who take their cattle and goats from place to place, in search of new grazing land. They speak Fulfulde, from the West-Atlantic branch of the Niger Congo language family. The Togo Fulani are very similar to their Fulani neighbors in Benin.
What are their lives like?
The Togo Fulani are primarily shepherds, with their lives revolving around the herds. In the rainy season, the cattle and goats graze on the lush fertile land near the village. During the dry season, the cattle and goats are taken to other areas, where large wells are dug for their watering. These other areas are sometimes crop lands belonging to nearby farmers. Though some crops may be eaten or trampled by the herds, no ill feelings linger, since the manure left behind provides fertilizer for the next season's crops.
For the nomadic Fulani, cattle are their most important possessions since they symbolize wealth and status. The more cattle a man owns, the more respect he is given; and a bride may be chosen according to the amount of cattle she owns.
The Togo Fulani consume milk daily as their main food. Milk is very important to their diet, since they eat little meat and few vegetables. Butter and goat cheese are often traded at the markets for grain and other items. Millet is used each day in a porridge for the evening meal.
During the dry season, the Fulani live in portable shelters made of flexible twigs covered with leaves and grass mats. Temporary corrals for the herds surround each hut. Boys over 15 years old do their work under the direction and supervision of their fathers. They dig wells and water the herds, while their younger brothers help by running errands for them.
During the rainy season, the wuro (village) is the center of Togo Fulani society. Women care for the children; prepare butter, cheese, and daily meals; tend to the household gardens; and gather wild rice and berries. The men tend to the herds and make their own clothes. Making clothes is a way a man can express himself and show his individuality and personality.
What are their beliefs?
The Togo Fulani of Togo, like many other Fulani groups, believe that it is a sign of weakness to be controlled by fear; thus, they seldom show fear in public. Fulani boys are initiated into manhood in a somewhat unusual manner. Friends who are being initiated beat each other over the chest with their walking sticks. No sign of pain is to be shown, and there should be a willingness to receive more affliction. Some have died in this procedure, but the many that do live proudly show their scars as marks of honor.
The Fulani fear being alone or disliked. They often talk with friends to overcome the feeling of solitude. However, this need for company is concealed in public, as the Fulani tend to hide their feelings. Only through songs do they express such things as love or the need for others.
What are their needs?
The Togo Fulani are almost completely Muslim. Efforts to evangelize these people have produced only a very small number of converts. Much prayer and intercession are still needed to bring these nomads to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agency that is currently focusing on the Togo Fulani.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of the Togo Fulani so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray for strong local churches to be planted among the Togo Fulani.