“Feere fendi fettande kono virazam haazaani “
The Fulani are traditionally a nomadic, pastoralist, trading people, herding cattle, goats and sheep across the vast dry hinterlands of their domain, keeping somewhat separate from the local agricultural populations.
The early origin of Fulani People is most fascinating and deepened in mystery with widely divergent opinions. Many scholars believe that they are of Judaeo-Syrian origin. However, it is generally recognized that Fulani descended from nomads from both North Africa and from sub-Sahara Africa. They came from the Middle-East and North Africa and settled into Central and West Africa from the Senegal region they created the Tekruur Empire which was contemporary to the Ghana Empire. Then, they spread in all the countries in West-Africa, continuing to lead their nomadic life style. They created here and there mixed states where they sometimes were the dominant group. But more often, they were absorbed by the indigenous population whom they had dominated.
While some have speculated over the origin of Fulani people, current linguistic and genetic evidence suggests an indigenous West African origin among the Peul. The vast majority of genetic lineages associated with them reflect those most commonly seen in other West Africans. Their language is also of West African origin, most closely related to that of the Wolof and Serer ethnic groups. Historical and archaeological records indicate that Peul-speakers have resided in western Africa since at least the 5th century A.D. as well. Interestingly, rock paintings in the Tassili-n-Ajjer suggests the presence of proto-Fulani cultural traits in the region by at least the fourth millennium B.C. Scholars specializing in Fulani culture believe that some of the imagery depicts rituals that are still practiced by contemporary Fulani people.
Fula or Fulani or Fulbe (the latter being an Anglicization of the word in their language, Fulɓɓe) are an ethnic group of people spread over many countries, predominantly in West Africa, but found also in Central Africa and The Sudan of east Africa. The countries in Africa where they are present include Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, The Gambia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Niger, Togo, the Central African Republic, Ghana, Liberia, and as far as Sudan in the east.
Fulas are not a majority in every country they live, but in Guinea they represent a plurality of the population (largest single group).
There are also many names (and spellings of the names) used in other languages to refer to the Fulɓe. Fulani in English is borrowed from the Hausa term. Fula, from Manding languages is also used in English, and sometimes spelled Fulah or Foulah. Fula and Fulani are commonly used in English, including within Africa. The French borrowed the Wolof term Pël, which is variously spelled: Peul, Peulh, and even Peuhl. More recently the Fulfulde / Pulaar term Fulɓe, which is a plural noun (singular, Pullo) has been adapted to English as Fulbe, which some people use. In Portuguese it’s Fula or Futafula.
The Fula people or Fulani or Fulɓe (Fula: Fulɓe; French: Peul; Hausa: Fulani or Hilani; Portuguese: Fula; Wolof: Pël; Bambara: Fulaw), numbering between 20 and 25 million people in total, are one of the largest and a widely dispersed Muslim ethnic group in Sahel and West Africa. The Fula people are traditionally believed to have roots in the people 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 (Fulfulde), culture, history, their religious affiliation and their efforts to spread Islam in Sahel region and the West Africa.
A significant proportion of the Fula – a third, or an estimated 7 to 8 million – are pastoral people, making them the ethnic group with the largest nomadic pastoral community in the world. The majority of the Fula ethnic group consisted of semi-sedentary people, as well as sedentary settled farmers, artisans, merchants and nobility. Spread over many countries, they are found mainly in West Africa and northern parts of Central Africa, but also in Chad, Sudan and regions near the Red Sea.