ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE FULANI - Onyeji Nnaji

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nybody trying to document a comprehensive history of West Africa would possibly not be up-to-date should the journey of the erratic nomads from far Middle East be ignored. Yes, the inclusion of the nomads may not serve as a true history of West Africa, seeing that they were sojourners who eventually forced their ways into the inhabitants of the West; but as long as history is never complete except it includes involvement of people at different times and their encounters with others within and around them untimely, the history of West Africa surely will incorporate the activities of the roving nomads.

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As a child, anytime we saw cows we told one another that Fulani people were coming. As soon as that happened our mind became fixated. We expected to see something different from the normal things obtainable in normal societies. The Fulani, for instance, do not treat their children as nothing different from slaves, savages and animals. Their little ones were left to walk barefooted in the hot sun, while their mothers comfortably carried fowls on their backs. We knew them as a people who moved within cows, and a people associated with the myth of turning into cows at night. We told ourselves about the Fulani mystic powers and tried to compare them with the exchange of mystic energy that dominated the challenges we saw during mystic festivals. The Fulani mystic power were to us as the mere turning a rod into a snake by Moses in the palace of Pharaoh. We had seen powers manifested beyond that. Yet we feared the Fulani since they could magically turn to cows.

Beyond this, we saw among the Fulani a society where humans were not given adequate care or concern. It was to us as though an average Fulani child was left to his fate. And to attain the peak of their destiny in life was the sole victory of assailing high as a herder. We looked at ourselves and the nature of concern we received from our parents; turning to the helpless Fulani children, as they seemed to us, we saw a world prepared for raising people who would think no greater of others than mere animals that live in the bush, pastured by a herder, who would be butchered without recourse to nature instinct. Besides that, we saw beautifully slim-fitted young maidens that walked with them.  They carried beautifully calved calabash on their heads freehandedly. “These ones would make good wives”, we thought; only to bashfully receive from older brothers that, to have a Fulani girl as a wife, one needs to engage in a fight of flogging rods. 
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Nothing about them read well to us and for which we could believe that a Fulani could possibly think of being educated in the western ways as we were undergoing then.  Presently, I can see that there are highly enlightened Fulani; although their education does not remove those cannibalistic lifestyles imprint in their blood stream.  

People whom historians identify as Fulani entered present-day Senegal from the north and east. It is certain that they were a mixture of people from northern and sub-Saharan Africa. These pastoral peoples tended to move in an eastern direction and spread over much of West Africa after the tenth century. Their adoption of Islam increased the Fulanis' feeling of cultural and religious superiority to surrounding peoples, and that adoption became a major ethnic boundary marker. The Toroobe, a branch of the Fulani, settled in towns and mixed with the ethnic groups there. They quickly became noted as outstanding Islamic clerics, joining the highest ranks of the exponents of Islam, along with Berbers and Arabs. The Town Fulani (Fulbe Sirre) never lost touch with their Cattle Fulani relatives, however, often investing in large herds themselves. Cattle remain a significant symbolic repository of Fulani values.

ORIGIN OF THE FULANI

A search for the origin of the Fulani is not only futile; it betrays a position toward ethnic identity that strikes many anthropologists as profoundly wrong. Ethnic groups are political-action groups that exist, among other reasons, to attain benefits for their members. Therefore, by definition, their social organization, as well as cultural content, will change over time. Moreover, ethnic groups, such as the Fulani, are always coming into, and going out of existence. Rather than searching for the legendary eastern origin of the Fulani, a more productive approach might be to focus on the meaning of Fulani identity within concrete historical situations and analyze the factors that shaped Fulani ethnicity and the manner in which the sect spread across nations.
Many people had tried tracing the historical origin of the Fulani and failed because they sought to find ancestry for the sect among the Africans of the west. 

To find the origin of some African settlement in the west, attentions needed to be given to other African settlements beyond the west. This is because, many African nations could vividly speak of their migration from North Africa than they could clearly speak of their emigration to the north. Take the Akan, the Ganda, The Abaluya of Kenya (Kikuyu), the Zulu etc. for instance; they could narrate their stories as Bantu who had travelled from unclear destinations in the Northern part s of Africa than they could speak of their original sources before their early settlement at the equatorial plane. The same situation holds for the Fulani situation. Not even the Fulani could tell their history. The reason is that they their life of hobo stole from them the memory of having a source. No speck of this is contained in their oral tradition. The Fulani’s oral tradition holds thus:  

Geno, the Eternal Lord first created the cow. Then he created the woman, only then the Pullo. He put the woman behind the cow. He put the Pullo behind the woman. It is what the genesis of the drover says; it is what makes the holy trinity of the pastor. Glory to the Creator of all things - the chaos and light; the full egg and the great void! Frrom the drop of milk, he extracted the universe; the teat, he brought out the word. Nomadic speech: longest river of milk that multiplies the meanders between deserts and forests to say and repeat the incredible adventure of Fulɓe.
According to Zain Agu in www.legit.ng, “Researchers cannot give an unambiguous answer regarding the origin of Fulani tribe. There are several theories; it is known that as a nomadic tribe they moved through many other cultures. The oral histories of the tribe point to their origin in Egypt, but the language of Fulani tribe seems to originate from Senegambian region.” The oral history that traced the Fulani origin to Egypt was not completely wrong. The only problem was that the writers claiming Egyptian origin for the Fulani lifted the nomadic image painted in Black Genesis by Robert Bauval and Thomas Brophy to show the lifestyle of the inhabitants of Nabta Playa before its destruction. This same image was borrowed by Zain Agu to prove that the Fulani had migrated from Egypt. But he was wrong.  
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You will get this image on page 100 of the book, Black Genesis by Robert Bauval and Thomas Brophy.

The species of cow the Fulani are known with was particularly Egypt. The are different from the type of livestock found elsewhere in the Middle East or down here in West Africa. a clear evidence is found on the engraved image dating back to 4000 BCE and beyond. According to the observations made by Dr. Nieves Zedeño, Nabta Playa are remarkable as the home of this special species of cow. found in Nabta Playa also is the cow emblem shown below




This emblem was unearthed in the area with “the wadi of sacrifices” were conducted. It was concluded that these cattle burials and offerings appear to indicate the presence of a cattle cult. Radiocarbon dating placed these cow burials at around 5500 BCE, thus at least two thousand years before the emergence of the well-known cattle cults of ancient Egypt, such as those of the cow-faced goddess Hathor, the universally known goddess Isis, and the sky goddess.  


Other proofs found at Nabta Playa are shown below.
    

The origin of the Fulani is traced beyond Egypt. Of course, basing one’s assertion on the similarities of Fulani and other parts of Africa, Egypt will be very far. The truth that cannot be overstated is the fact that the nomadic character that finally formed the base of what the Fulani hold as their totemic emblem was derived from Egypt. Aside that, a traditional Fulani person takes identical tribal features of the Ethiopians. The women below are good examples. Look at their faces; there is no difference between these women: traditional Habesha or an Eritrea women, Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Fulani girl at the right hand position, Ethiopian. They have the same tribal designs. By this, it invariably means that both people must have had contacts in the time past, even though there is no trace of Fulani in the Ethiopian history, past and present. 

The ancestral father of the Fulde, Fulbe, Fula, Fulani as they may be called was King Hadad. King Hadad belonged to the strayed descendants of Esau the elder son of Isaac. History made us to know that Esau lived at Mount Seir where he built his city after his name, Edom.

The map of Edom on the plane of the Middle East alongside her neighbours is shown below.

Hadad was the king of Elah, one of the eleven clans that survived Esau. In the c11BC.  Edom was invaded by King David and his Joab led army. David destroyed many cities of the Edomites. He destroyed Amalek a few days after Ziklag was invaded by the Amalekites. He burnt the land and destroyed it totally. Amalekites were the home of the descendants of Amalek who was the grandson of  Esau's eldest son, Eliphaz (Gen. 36:16). This took place many years after King Saul defeated Edom and captured Agag alive, in the same century. Hadad fled to Egypt and lived there till the year David died, he returned. Meanwhile, Hadad had acquired cattle in Egypt. In the days of Solomon, before the division of Israel and Judah, Hadad plot an attack on Judah but he was not successful. He ganged up with the Medianite kings. History has it that both nations turned against each other in confusion and slew themselves; Hadad ran away and Edom remained vassal hence as David had subjected her. Edom was ruled by delegates from Judah until Edom was shared between Israel and Jordan.

Some historians claimed that Hadad ran to Syria. But the Tanakh that discussed issues general about the across Red sea history maintains that Hadad ran to Nubia and lived as a nomad. He founded the Red Noba who was the first coloured Nubias. They also were the earliest nomadic herders in the Nubia region in the late centuries before our era. From the History of Wars adopted by the Ethiopian King, Ezana (330–356 AD) the situation of the spread of the nomadic herders towards inner Africa was clear. The herders were at continuous war with the Black Nobas. At the time when this migration downward began, Ezana noted that it was rather “Hasa and Barya, and the Black Noba” who “ waged war on the Red Noba.” Ezana fought in favour of the Red Noba.

I took the field against the Noba when the people of Noba revolted and did violence to the Mangurto; Hasa and Barya, and the Black Noba waged war on the Red Noba. I fought on the Takkaze [Atbara] at the ford of Kemalke. They fled, and I pursued the fugitives twenty-three days slaying them and capturing others and taking plunder; I burnt their towns, and seized their corn and their bronze and the dried meat and the images in their temples and destroyed the stocks of corn and cotton; and the enemy plunged into the river Seda [Blue Nile].
It was about this time (340s – 350 AD) that the Fulani began to advance downward towards West Africa.      

For the fully nomadic Fulani, the practice of transhumance, the seasonal movement in search of water, strongly influences settlement patterns. The basic settlement, consisting of a man and his dependents, is called a wuru. It is social but ephemeral, given that many such settlements have no women and serve simply as shelters for the nomads who tend the herds.

There are, in fact, a number of settlement patterns among Fulani. In the late twentieth century there has been an increasing trend toward livestock production and sedentary settlement, but Fulani settlement types still range from traditional nomadism to variations on sedentarism. As the modern nation-state restricts the range of nomadism, the Fulani have adapted ever increasingly complex ways to move herds among their related families: the families may reside in stable communities, but the herds move according to the availability of water. Over the last few centuries, the majority of Fulani have become sedentary.

Those Fulani who remain nomadic or seminomadic have two major types of settlements: dry-season and wet-season camps. The dry season lasts from about November to March, the wet season from about March to the end of October. Households are patrilocal and range in size from one nuclear family to more than one hundred people. The administrative structure, however, crosscuts patrilinies and is territorial. Families tend to remain in wet-season camp while sending younger males—or, increasingly, hiring non-Fulani herders—to accompany the cattle to dry-season camps.

ATTAINING A STATE OF EMPIRE

The Fulani movement in West Africa tended to follow a set pattern. Their first movement into an area tended to be peaceful. Local officials gave them land grants. Their dairy products, including fertilizer, were highly prized. The number of converts to Islam increased over time. With that increase, Fulani resentment at being ruled by pagans, or imperfect Muslims, increased.

The attempts to suddenly emerge and rise as an empire in the Western part of Africa stemmed from the desire to dominate. This officially became the plan of the Fulbe beginning with their encounter with the Islamic religion. seeking to redefine their inferior state and degraded standard of life, they found the religion relevant towards achieving their intention. first, their conquering and overtaking of Fouta Djillon highland in the Central Guinea. Fouta Djillon formed the first part of Africa where ethnic cleansing was first practised. Ethnic cleansing is the Fulani strategic process of overpowering the inhabitants, wiping the owners and replacing them with vast Fulani numbers. The attempt worked out well in Fouta Djillon as the Guineas did not pose  much restraint. After de-settling the indigenous and replacing them with the crowded Fulbe that flooded in from the Nubia (present day Sudan). From there they advanced through south into the northernmost reaches of Sierra Leone; the Futa Tooro savannah grasslands of Senegal and southern Mauritania; the Macina inland Niger river delta system around Central Mali; and especially in the regions around Mopti and the Nioro Du Sahel in the Kayes region; the Borgu settlements of Benin, Togo and West-Central Nigeria; the northern parts of Burkina Faso in the Sahel region's provinces of SenoWadalan, and Soum; and the areas occupied by the Sokoto Caliphate     
   
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The Fulani interest in Nigeria was not generally for pastoral reasons of any type. The intention was originally to conquer the entire nation of people whose ethnic diversities divided against will. The intention was originally to becloud the population and overtake them for Islamic conversion. To succeed, they subtly won the heart of the leader of Sokoto Kaliphate. from there they penetrated Sokoto. Dominant in this area of Nigeria, the need for Islamising the area became the next attempt. This movement was led by the prominent Jihadist, Usman Dan Fodio. He founded the Mini empire of Maasina, in 1862; Originally, Usman Ibn Fodio.
The Maasina Emirate, also called Diina ("religion" in Fulfulde, with Arabic origins), was established by the Fulbe jihad led by Sheeku Aamadu in 1818. The origins of the Maasina Emirate in the Inner Delta of the Niger are also found in rebellion, this time against the Bambara/Bamana Kingdom of Segou, a political power that controlled the region from outside. This jihad was inspired by events in northern Nigeria where an important scholar of the time, Usman Dan Fodio, established an Islamic empire with Sokoto as its capital.

For some time, groups of Fulbe had been dominant in parts of the delta, thereby creating a complex hierarchy dating back through several waves of conquest. However, due to internecine warfare they were never able to organize a countervailing force against the Bamana Kingdom. In 1818, an Islamic cleric named Aamadu Hammadi Buubu united the Fulbe under the banner of Islam and fought a victorious battle against the Bamana and their allies. He subsequently established his rule in the Inland Delta and the adjacent dry lands east and west of the delta.

This state appears to have had tight control over its core area, as evidenced by the fact that its political and economic organization is still manifested today in the organization of agricultural production in the Inland Delta. Despite its power and omnipresence, the hegemony of the emirate was constantly threatened. During the reign of Aamadu Aamadu, the grandson of Sheeku Aamadu, internal contradictions weakened the emirate until it became easy prey for the forces of the Futanke, which subsequently overthrew the Maasina Emirate, in 1862. Fodio had trained army for his intended Jihad which was suddenly usurped by the Middle Beltans before the approach of the colonial masters to that region.
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Usman Ibn Fodio led his army against the peaceful communities in the Northern areas of Nigeria and slaughtered the inhabitants without mercy until the helpless remnants succumbed to his religious dominion and were Islamised.  
The situation in Nigeria was somewhat different from that elsewhere in West Africa in that the Fulani entered an area more settled and developed than that in other West African areas. At the time of their arrival, in the early fifteenth century, many Fulani settled as clerics in Hausa city-states such as Kano, Katsina, and Zaria. Others settled among the local peoples during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By the seventeenth century, the Hausa states had begun to gain their independence from various foreign rulers, with Gobir becoming the predominant Hausa state.

The Jihad intention of the Ibn Fodio led army did not relent in their mutiny of the Nigerian area after they had conquered the entire northern Part. They did advanced towards the southern part. The wall of difficult passage formed by the Nigerians in the Belt Middle posed difficulties to the Fodio adventure. The Benue/Tivs stood their ground and refused to be captured. They fought the Fulani Army for months until, unfortunately for the Middle Beltans, the colonial masters suddenly arrived. About that time, in the Midd 1800s, the British colonialists had already defeated the Western Yoruba waterfront and had moved down to the southern part. With the eastern Igbo overtaken by the colonial masters, the middle belt region was left a stone thrown distance to be captured. Therefore, they advanced towards the northern part. 

At Benue there was a clash of interest as against the relentless warriors of the belt who was not prepared to give up the fight against the Fulani Jihadists. The colonialists were stupefied by the level of the already made army with weapons fighting themselves. They had to intervene by mediating amidst the fighting nations. To achieve this they had to think business with the people. The Middle Beltans needed to remain on their land and live their lives the way customary to their tradition. Turning to the Fulani Jihadist, it was discovered that the Fulani had the same intention as that of the colonial masters. At this point they entered into agreement. The British colonialists made a promise to return the territory to the Fulani after their colonial business.. This agreement ended the war and the Fulani retired to the Northern part of Nigeria which had already been conquered. 

This agreement was the sole reason why a Fulani had to take over power from the colonial masters. The later mutiny in the Benue valley, particularly the event of the 1st January,2017 that led to the death of over seventy Benue citizens was born from the long-held acrimony over the failed jihad attempt. 
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This and many more mayhem are found deserving by the Fulani who saw it as retaliations for the Benue's gallant attempts to usurp the Jihad intention targeted at Islamisng the entire Nigeria.

The urban culture of the Hausa was attractive to many Fulani. These Town or Settled Fulani became clerics, teachers, settlers, and judges—and in many other ways filled elite positions within the Hausa states. Soon they adopted the Hausa language, many forgetting their own Fulfulde language. Although Hausa customs exerted an influence on the Town Fulani, they did not lose touch with the Cattle or Bush Fulani.

These ties proved useful when their strict adherence to Islamic learning and practice led them to join the jihads raging across West Africa. They tied their grievances to those of their pastoral relatives. The Cattle Fulani resented what they considered to be an unfair cattle tax, one levied by imperfect Muslims. Under the leadership of the outstanding Fulani Islamic cleric, Shehu Usman dan Fodio, the Fulani launched a jihad in 1804. By 1810, almost all the Hausa states had been defeated.

Although many Hausa—such as Yakubu in Bauchi—joined dan Fodio after victory was achieved, the Fulani in Hausaland turned their religious conquest into an ethnic triumph. Those in Adamawa, for instance, were inspired by dan Fodio's example to revolt against the kingdom of Mandara. The leader was Modibo Adamu, after whom the area is now named. His capital is the city of Yola. After their victories, the Fulani generally eased their Hausa collaborators from positions of power and forged alliances with fellow Fulani.

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