Fulbe in Senegal

Photo Source:  Link Up Africa 
Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Fulbe
Country: Senegal
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 228,000
World Population: 5,268,500
Primary Language: Pular
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.05 %
Evangelicals: 0.01 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Fulani / Fulbe
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Historically the Fulani were a nomadic people who traveled from one region to another, seeking water for their cattle herds. After migrating from North Africa or the Middle East, they gradually spread eastward (over a 1000-year period from A. D. 900 to 1900), from Senegal and Guinea to as far as Sudan. During their wanderings, they conquered many less powerful tribes. Many Fulani completely or partially abandoned their traditional nomadic life in favor of a sedentary existence in towns or on farms among the conquered peoples. The Fulbe are a sub-group of this vast Fulani people group. They are semi-nomadic and raise crops as well as livestock. High plateaus serve as part-time pastures for their herds. Though their communities are centered in Guinea, they also live in other West African countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Senegal.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The livelihood of the Fulbe in Senegal is primarily based on farming and shepherding. Gathering forest produce, hunting, fishing, and trading are also part of their daily lives. Staple crops include millet, rice, and peanuts. Cattle herds, along with sheep and goats, are the primary livestock. The cattle are not the usual Fulani "humped" breed, but a native Fouta Djallon breed that is resistant to the disease-carrying tsetse fly. Herding cattle is usually a male activity; however, the women milk and take care of the cattle. Women also care for the poultry and small livestock, as well as cultivate the gardens. Women often carry containers of milk and cheese to sell or trade in local markets. Fulbe children belong to "age-sets" until they marry. An age-set is grouped at three or four year intervals, with every child born in those years belonging to that set. The children in an age-set go to school together and may participate in community labor or may help someone in their set with bride-service. Each age-set has a leader, a deputy, and a judge. Daughters remain with their mothers until they marry. However, as soon as a son reaches puberty, he leaves the family compound and lives alone in a nearby compound, usually with some cattle. This new compound becomes the home of the son and his future wife. Men usually marry in their early twenties. The first marriage of a man is usually arranged by his father. He must provide a bride-service of helping the girl's father with his livestock. As Muslims the Fulbe practice polygyny (the practice of having more than one wife); a man can have up to four wives if he can afford them. There is one chief wife, however, who has authority over the other wives. Although Fulbe villages are scattered, each village has a central court and a mosque. Houses belonging to the settled Fulbe are typically round with mud walls and thatched roofs. Each hut has an encircling verandah. The nomadic Fulbe live in open, beehive-shaped huts without walls or verandahs. Each hut is surrounded by a cattle corral. Each village has a headman who handles village affairs and answers to a paramount chief.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Fulbe in Senegal, like many small Islamic peoples, are very resistant to change. To date they have portions of the Bible in their language, but most efforts to establish a Jalon church have not been very successful. In order for a movement of Christ followers to emerge, people will need to discover for themselves what it means to be fully dedicated to Christ and fully Fulbe at the same time. The issue of identity is difficult for all communities, but it is especially difficult for ones that have identified with Islam for centuries like the Fulbe.

What Are Their Needs?

Islam is a central part of the identity of any Fulani people, and the Fulbe are no exception. Despite many efforts, the overwhelming majority of the Fulbe people remain Muslim, and few will allow for the lordship of Jesus, fearing the hostility of family and friends.

Prayer Points

Pray for abundant rain to bless the Fulbe people as a testimony of God's love and power. Pray for spiritual openness to the truth of Christ to penetrate the hearts of Fulbe in Senegal. Pray for Holy Spirit anointed workers to go to Fulbe communities in Guinea, Senegal and in Mali. Pray for workers who are willing to live as nomads if they need to in order to lead the Fulbe people to Christ. Pray for a movement to Christ to bless Fulbe families and communities.

Text Source:   Joshua Project