Fulani in Senegal
Way of Life
The Fulani (also known as Fulbe in Fulfulde or les Peuls in French) are among the most widely dispersed and culturally diverse peoples in Africa. They form the largest pastoral nomadic group in the world. The nomadic Fulani are full-time cattle keepers who move about with their cattle for much of the year. In contrast, settled Fulani live permanently in villages and cities, and yet many still have a nomadic mindset and consider themselves to be nomadic. Although both groups have the same origin and language, they regard themselves as only distantly related.
Dress codes and styles vary greatly. In general, married men and women follow the Islamic dress code. Men wear large gowns, trousers, and caps. Women wear wraps and blouses. Married Muslim women wear veils when they leave their household. Nomadic Fulani, however, wear more traditional clothes of bright colours. The women do not wear veils, but just a simple cloth only partially covering their long braided hair.
Population: More than 6 million, estimates range as high as 40 million.
Location: The Fulani are found in twenty nations in a wide swath of Africa—from Mauritania and Senegal to Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya; the largest concentrations are in Nigeria, Senegal, and Guinea
Language: Fulfulde (pronounced full-FULL-day); Arabic; French; English
Professing Christian: <1% (evangelical)
Beliefs & Culture
It is difficult to find a Fulani who would admit to not being Muslim, no matter how lax their practice may be. As Muslims, the Fulani observe standard Islamic religious practices. They pray five times a day, learn to recite the Quran by heart, and give alms to the needy. For one month each year (Ramadan) they fast during the daytime.
Music and art are part of daily life in traditional areas. Musical historians are popular, especially at weddings, baby-naming ceremonies and other festivals. These singers tell about a community’s history and its leaders and other prominent individuals. Religious singers may chant Islamic scriptures. The Fulani are noted for their oral literature, which has been influenced by surrounding peoples and by Islam. The major categories are poetry, history, story, legend, proverb, magic formula, and riddle. Folktales are popular among all Fulani. Children are told bedtime stories that usually have a moral lesson.
The Work So Far
Workers are hearing testimony of how God is at work bringing people into His Kingdom. One Fulani man was able to return to his village and there he shared the Gospel with family and friends. People came from quite a distance to hear him. They started gathering at his house around 5:00 p.m. and stayed until 4:00 a.m. to hear the Good News and to ask questions. “How do I follow the way of Christ?” “How do I pray, now?” These are significant questions from people who have followed a strict religion that dictates to them how to live and how to pray. Then they returned the next night. And once again stayed until the early hours of the morning asking questions. There is a great hunger for the Gospel. On another occasion, workers were invited to join with some of their American colleagues and some Senegalese believers to consecrate them in this ministry of evangelism as they’d moved to the outskirts of Dakar and intended to spread the Good News of the Kingdom to this village. As the meeting was happening, two young men from the village came by, curious to see what was going on. When they discovered what the meeting was about and that the participants were Christians, they too confessed a belief in Jesus. Up to this point they had stayed hidden, even from each other – these men didn’t even know about the faith of the other.
There is a great hunger for the Gospel
How to Pray for the Fulani
Praise God for those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Pray for those who are persecuted by their families because of this decision.
Pray that men, women, and children will accept Christ, that they will allow Him to enter their hearts, homes, and places of work. Pray that parents will become good role models of righteousness.
Pray for our international workers currently serving among the Fulani, sharing the Gospel through storytelling, digging wells, and providing education and work experience for young girls, men and women alike.
Pray that people will support this ministry in prayer and in financial giving, and that God will bless them through their support.