Fulani in Niger
Way of Life
The majority of Niger’s Western Fulani are poor, illiterate, rural animal herders who are somewhat marginalized by neighbouring people groups. Most of them are sedentary but, with a nomadic history, they still take pride in considering themselves nomads. The young men continue to travel many hundreds of kilometres on foot every year, leading their cattle to pasture and water.
Increasing desertification has diminished the size and health of many herds and led to the necessity of planting crops. The staple of the Fulani diet is millet, corn, and sorghum, all of which they grow in their fields. Small gardens add vegetables to their diet.
Fulani values include hospitality, patience, reserve, and respect. Their life is guided by an unwritten, but extensive, system of rules that dictate family, social, and religious interactions.
Location: Niger, West Africa
Language: Fulfulde (pronounced full-FULL-day); Western Niger
Professing Christian: 0.02%
Beliefs & Culture
It is hard to find a Fulani who does not believe in the existence of God. Essentially all of them are Muslim, though they practice their religion with varying levels of commitment. Most cannot read, and are unable to explain what they believe, but are often dedicated to the required five daily prayers, participation in the annual month of fasting, and celebration of religious holidays.
Niger’s Fulani practice “folk Islam,” meaning that it is combined with many elements of traditional African religions such as curses, good-luck charms, witch doctors, animal sacrifices, and the like. Add poverty, debt, and unemployment to the mix and many Fulani, though they love to laugh and tease, live in fear.
There is strong social pressure against conversion to another religion, so seekers of Jesus normally do so privately. Some say that they believe that the message of Jesus is the Truth, but fear of their fathers and other relatives keeps them from choosing to follow.
Sadly, many young Fulani are being drawn into extremist forms of Islam and have made the world news with their violent terrorist activity.
The Work So Far
The C&MA in Canada has been working with the Western Fulani of Niger since 2003. We have done—and are continuing to do—a variety of development projects, including training in agriculture, animal health, hygiene, and malaria prevention. We have dug wells, done animal loan programs and short-term village clinics, as well as starting village savings and loans groups, and a village school.
While doing these projects and building relationships, we look for people who are interested in spiritual things and take advantage of frequent opportunities to pray for people and their various needs. We have distributed large numbers of SD cards with recordings of Scripture portions, Bible teachings, and Christian songs. We praise the Lord for opportunities to start Bible storying groups, whereby we tell the story of Scripture to interested listeners.
A small number of Fulani, mostly men, have committed their lives to Christ and are growing in their faith and beginning to share the Good News with others.
There is a great hunger for the Gospel
How to Pray for the Fulani
Pray that Fulani people will be disillusioned with their religion and that God will call many to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for God to use dreams and visions to reveal Himself.
Praise God for the believers among the Western Fulani. Pray that they will love each other and their families well, be united, remain strong in the face of persecution, grow in their faith, and be bold in their witness.
Pray that God will call more workers to the Fulani. Pray that the current workers will be Christ-centred, Spirit-empowered, united, persevering, and loving.