Introduction / History The Fulani are a vast people group that emigrated from North Africa or the Middle East to West and Central Africa many centuries ago. They are primarily nomadic herdsmen who travel with their herds from place to place in search of better grazing land.
The Fulani are lighter- skinned, have straighter hair and noses, and have thinner lips than other African groups, suggesting a Caucasian origin. They are a dignified people who take great pride in distinguishing themselves from non-Fulani people.
Today, the Fulani are grouped and named according to their location, occupation, and language dialect. The Gurma Fulani are those Fulani living in the Gourma region of southeastern Burkina Faso. They are Fulbe-Laddi (semi-nomadic herdsmen), mixing herding with agriculture. They speak Fulfulde Gourmantche, a language from the West-Atlantic branch of the Niger-Congo language family.
What are their lives like? The livelihood of the Gurma Fulani is dependent on the seasons. The wet season is a time of cultivation and harvesting, with the herds and the family living together in a permanent settlement. During the dry season, the herds are taken to marshland or flood plains for more water and better grazing land.
The wuro (village) is the center of Gurma Fulani society. Here, the women do most of their work. Their main task is the preparation of the evening meal, a millet porridge, which can take four or five hours to make. They also gather twigs and grass for the construction of their homes. Milking the cattle and preparing butter are other important chores. As they work, the women tend to their children, often with their babies carried on their backs.
Making clothes is a way a man can express himself and show his individuality and personality. Also, a man has an obligation to dress his family. Thus, a man will make his own clothes and buy cloth and handkerchiefs for his wives. Children do not wear many clothes until they are able to sew for themselves.
Men who have sons that are at least fifteen years old must pass their work on to them to maintain a separation of the generations. The fathers act as supervisors to their sons, directing them in digging wells or watering the herds. They also handle any disputes that may arise.
Young boys spend much of their time playing in the bush, chasing birds from the fields, or keeping the herds from getting in the fields. Young girls help their mothers with their chores.
The Fulani feel that if you are able to have someone work for you, then you are of a higher social status. Consequently, they are not known as hard workers. Although the temperature of this region is more bearable during the rainy season, they prefer to work during the dry season. The dry season task of watering the herd is easier than the rainy season task of cultivating the fields.
What are their beliefs? The Gurma Fulani believe that it is a sign of weakness to be controlled by fear; therefore, they seldom show fear in public. They believe that mental illness is caused by being so terrified that you lose control of yourself.
They think of the village as a place of rules and obligations-a place for socially acceptable behavior. The bush, on the other hand, is a place of freedom, where they can act according to their own needs.
The Gurma Fulani hate to feel alone. They overcome the feeling of solitude by talking with others. However, this need for company is concealed in public, as the Fulani tend to hide their feelings. They are only free to express their love for others through songs.
What are their needs? The Gurma Fulani are overwhelmingly Muslim. Only a very small number have become Christian. Much prayer and intercession are still needed if the Gurma Fulani are to know that they will never be alone with Jesus.
Prayer Points * Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Gurma Fulani.
* Pray for the effective use of the Jesus film among the Fulani.
* Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio in their area.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of the Gurma Fulani so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray for strong local churches to be planted among the Gurma Fulani.
Sahel region, Oudalan, Soum, Seno, Yagha provinces; Centre-Nord region, Namentega and Bam provinces, small border areas; Boucle du Muhoun region, Kossi and Sourou provinces; south of Mopti town, Mali border. (Source: Ethnologue 2016)