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Ful6e Code of Conduct (Pulaaku) As Portrayed in Their Proverbs.

  •  1.0 Introduction.

    Fulfulde is the language of the Ful6e (singular: Pullo) who live mostly in #WestAfrica. They are known in Hausa land as Fulani, in #Sierra Leone and the #Gambia as Fula and in #Sudan as #Fellata.They are found throughout West African sub-region roughly between 10thand 15th parallels and extending from #Senegal, Gambia, and #Guinea on the Atlantic through #Mali, #BurkinaFaso, #Nigeria, #Chad and #Cameroon eastwards. They are also found in #Benin, #Ghana and #Mauritania.They are the major #tribe among African pastoral nomads (Arnott, 1985:1 and Tomfafi, 1991:293).

    A proverb is usually a true statement of the folk obtained from experience. It is enriched with wisdom, morals, traditional views and commonly held ideas and beliefs of the society. It serves as a means through which a society preserves its culture and passes it to generations. A proverb is characterized with diversity of meaning. In other words, it can be subjected to various meanings. There is a surface or denotative meaning and a deeper or connotative meaning of a proverb. Whereas the surface meaning can be understood by many, the deeper meaning is normally understood and revealed through analytic study of the proverbs which requires deep thinking and reasoning. Study of proverbs requires knowledge of the culture of the society concerned. (Baldick, 2004:208,Amin, 2004:14, Amin, 2013:2 and Bugaje, 2014 :19-20).

    Pulaaku „Ful6e code of conduct‟ is an important  aspect of Ful6e culture that houses the general rules that govern the way of life of the Ful6e.It is the Ful6e ethics or ethos. Apart from Semteende (shyness/bashfulness, Munyal (patience) and Hakkiilo (care, caution and forethought), pulaaku also include such components as End'am ‟compassion‟,Ngorgu ‟courage or bravery‟,Ned'd'aaku „dignity‟, Goongaaku „truthfulness ‟and Ndimaaku (being free) (Stenning 1959:55, Mukoshi 1984 and Ver Eecke,1991:187).

    Pulaaku is embodied in Ful6e proverbs because it is part and parcel of the Ful6e culture and literature is among the custodians of culture of which proverbs are a genre.It is quite demanding for one to quickly add here that pulaaku which has the same root as their name and the name of their language. The root is pul-/ ful- from which words like pullo, Fulbe, pulaaku, pular and Fula are derived.
    It should be noted that /p/ changes to /f/ and vice versa just like /h/ changes to /k/ when the word changes from singular to plural. For instance, Pullo (singular) and Ful~e (plural), pamaro (small, singular) famar~e (small, plural). This change is known as initial consonant mutation. Although some of the constituents of pulaaku may be symmetrical to the cherished values in some other cultures, this could be as a result of cultural universality and or generality, as stated by Kottak (2005:52) that:

    Certain features of culture are universal, found in every culture. Others are merely generalities, common to several but not all human groups. Still other traits are particularities, unique to certain cultural traditions.

    Many literary scholars are of the view that proverbs and other oral sources can be used to study a society. However, Amin (2002:5) emphasizes that proverbs can serve the purpose as a corpus in studying the philosophy of the Hausa than any other genre of orature because:

    from a vivid look at other genres of Hausa orature, one finds out that karin magana (Hausa term for proverb) either features in or forms their basis.

    Indeed, Kirk-Greene (1973),Amin (2002),Owomoyela (2004) and Oraegbunam (n.d) used, among other things, the proverb in the study of some aspects of the code of conduct in Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo respectively. Hence, it will not be illogical to attempt the use of Ful6e proverbs to study the Ful6e code of conduct.
    This research examines the concept of pulaaku as contained in Ful6e proverbs.

    This is done by first  identifying the constituents of pulaaku as highlighted by the preceding researchers.It is then followed by the identification and discussion of the Ful6e proverbs related to each of the constituents of pulaaku.
    The content of the proverbs is prioritized in the analysis of the proverbs because the research dwells basically on the way pulaaku is portrayed in the Ful6e proverbs which is basically contentual.

    1 History of the Ful6e.

    There are many theories regarding the origin of Ful6e. Most of the theories are based on
    Ful6e oral legends (Awogbade, 1983:1). Prominent among the theories is the one postulated by Awogbade (1983:1-2) which relates the Ful6e's origin to Uqba, an Arab, who migrated to Africa and married an African, Bajjomanga. The couple were said to have begotten children who were said to be the progenitors of the Ful6e. This child was said to be dumb until on one occasion when his mother went to take her bath after giving birth to the second child, the second child began to cry and the elder began to comfort him, speaking a language completely unknown to the parents. According to the legend, this language is what is today known as Fulfulde.

    The above postulation is an evidence that the Fulbe are of African progeny, but where
    in Africa? According to Mohammed (1987) in Daudu (1995:4) Senegambia area is the putative home of Ful6e from which they had spread across other West African countries.

    Desert encroachment and over population of cattle were said to be the two reasons responsible for their migration. Quartey-papafio (1903:73) also traced the Ful6e‟s origin to Uqba but argued that Uqba was sent to Melle (present day Mali) by the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) so that he would teach the people of that area the religion
    of Islam.

    The movement of Ful6e from their putative home was initially northwards. Later on, it  was hindered by the hostile Sahara Desert and hence it was turned eastwards (Daudu, 1995:2). Although the precise date for the arrival of the Ful6e in Hausa land was not recorded, their presence was evident since the thirteenth century (Awogbade, 1983:3).Muhammad (1989:3-4) noted that the direction of the movement of Ful6e to the east was not only forced by Sahara Desert but was also partly favoured by the reverence which the Ful6e and other Muslims have for the east being the direction faced during prayers (qibla) and also the direction of Mecca from west Africa. He added that, because of their movement, “few linguistic communities, if any, can equal the Ful6e's diaspora both in number and, more importantly, in sheer geographical spread.”

    The jihad of Usman danfodio in early 19th century resulted in the establishment of  Fulbe‟s rule in most Hausa states. The jihad was said to have originated from Gobir as a result of an indiscreet decision of the ruler of Gobir, Yunfa, to contain the influence of the jihad leader, Usman danfodio, by attempting to exterminate the presence of the Ful6e in the  kingdom of Gobir (Imam in Daudu, 1995:6). The aim of the jihad was a controversial issue among historical analysts. What seem to be more factual is that, the aim of the jihadwas religious because ascontained in the jihad leader‟s book titled Tanbihul Ikhwan „Admonition to the Brethren‟, he was “attempting to revive the Islamic common wealth of the era of the prophet” (Mendelssonn,1903:409).

    It was not only the Hausa states that came under the Ful6e rule as a result of 1804 Islamic revolution, but also some other parts of northern Nigeria. For instance, when the Ful6e  leaders "ard'o'en" selected Modibbo Adama to visit Usman [danfodio, the latter gave him the jihad flag “in the lands in the east” which led to the establishment of an emirate in Yola (Abubakar,1972:77-78).

    Although the jihad brought most Hausa states under Ful6e rule, it on the other hand promoted the spread of Hausa language and culture. This was due to the fact that the Ful6e ruling class were relatively few in number and hence were “absorbed by Hausa both culturally and linguistically (Arnott in Muhammad,1989:8) The following were the jihad flag-bearers and their respective emirates as stated by Daudu, (1995:7-8):

    i.Katsina -Umaru Dallaji.

    ii.Kano -Suleiman
    iii.Daura -Isiaka
    iv.Borno -Goni Mukhtar
    v.Hadejia -Sambo Digimas ( son of Ardo Abduure)
    vi.Adamawa -Modibbo Adama (Ba'en clan)
    vii.Gombe -Buuba Yero (Wolar6e clan)
    viii.Katagum -Mallam Zaki
    ix.Bauchi -Ibrahim Yakubu
    x.Jama‟are -Sambo Lei
    xi.Ilorin -Abdul-Alimi (Abdul-Azim)
    xii.Zaria -Mallam Musa
    xiii.Bagharmi - Kalfu Muhammadu (Ali Buulo)
    xiv.Segu-Massina -Ahmadu Labbo


    The movement of the Ful6e eastward was later changed after reaching Bagharmi in Borno Empire due to wars strives and desert encroachment. It therefore, turned southwards and south-west. The 1804 jihad also favored the south and south-west movement of the Ful6e (Daudu, 1995:8-9).

    The Ful6e live in clans which are the largest social and political units of Ful6e society (Abubakar, 1972:73).There are various clans among the Ful6e which include Ba'en, Wolar6e, Kaceccere'en, woodaa6e etc. Some of the clans are made up of lineages. Kaceccere‟en, for instance are made up of several lineages which include Gayaaji, Wuntanko‟en, Bornanko‟en, Yillaa6e and Yaakanaaji (McIntosh (1984)) in Daudu (1995:16). Sa'ad (1991:229) included Keesu‟en and Wuyti‟en as part of the Ful6e clans.

    The Ful6e have been classified into three based on their degree of urbanization. The first group is Mbororo'en who practice complete pastoral life and move from place to place in search for pasture.The second group is the Ful6e Na‟i who have settled down in rural areas combining herding and farming. The third group is referred to as Ful6e Saare who live in the urban centers and most of whom are elites but have long ago lost their cattle Yakubu, (1997) in Abdulmumini,  (2007:60).

    1.2 The Fulfulde (Language of the Ful6e).

    Several works have been conducted on the language of the Ful6e. Some scholars and researchers such as Johnston (1921:213) referred to it as "Fula‟ while others
    such as Daudu (1995:9) called it "Fulfulde". The Ful6e in Nigeria and Cameroun which is the area covered by this research call their language Fulfulde. The term " Fula " is used by the Mandingo people of Sierra Leone to refer to the Ful6e. This was adopted and used as a generic term for European literature (Johnston, 1921:213). To the Ful6e in Nigeria, Fula means a big single native speaker of Fulfulde. Therefore, the language of the Ful6e is Fulfulde. To some Ful6e like Kaceccere'en, Fulfulde is not only the language but also equals to pulaaku.

    According to Greenberg (1963) in Mukoshi (1984:22) Fulfulde is an African language belonging to the Niger-Congo family of the Niger-Kordofanian phylum. Bendor-Samuel in (Daudu, 1995:10) said Fulfulde is one of the North -Atlantic groups of languages  together with Wolof, Serer and Joola. Whereas most of the African languages are tonal, Fulfulde is an into-national language, making it an exception among the twelve Nigerian languages studied and documented by Elizebeth Dunstan (Dunstan, 1969:66).

    Fulfulde is spoken by a reasonable percentage of the Nigerian population in particular and West African population in general. According to Citizen Magazineof 1993 vol. 4 no. 14, the Fulfulde speakers then constitute about 10% of the total Nigeria's population  (Daudu, 1995:11) Despite the claim made by language researchers that Fulfulde is a rare choice for people in Nigeria who are in the process of exchanging their identity for that of a dominant group, there are communities, especially in areas where Fulfulde is the lingua franca, that have been identified as exchanging their own language for Fulfulde (Blench,1994:5). Among these communities are the Holma and Wurbo. Blench (1994:4)
    added that:

    The Holma people live north of Yola near Sorau on the Cameroun border while the Wurbo people live on the tributaries of River Benue. The Holma people traditionally spoke a Chadic language related to Njanyi.

    Apart from being one of the six languages slated for international broadcast in Voice of  Nigeria and one of the twelve languages for broadcasting in Radio Nigeria, Fulfulde is used for broadcasting programmes and news at state level in Adamawa,Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto and Taraba states.Apart from these, Fulfulde is also used
    in some private radio stations such as Nagarta Radio,Kaduna and Freedom Radio,Kano.It is, in fact, the lingua franca in Adamawa state and some parts of Bauchi, Taraba and Yobe states (Daudu, 1995 and Daudu 1997).

    Fulfulde is also available online. There are websites like web which write various aspects of Fulfulde, some like even write in Fulfulde. Fulfulde is one of the few African languages that were first beneficiaries of the Arabic script. The early writings in Fulfulde using the Arabic script were in form of poetry. As if to support this assertion, Gerard (1993:16) noted that:

     As a handful of historians and linguistic scholars have known all along, a substantial amount of poetry had been written in the Islamized areas of black Africa using the Arabic script and language, or transliterating vernacular languages in the Arabic script.

    Similarly, Finnegan (1970:50) adds:

    Not only was Arabic itself a vehicle of communication and literature, but many African languages in these areas came to adopt the written form using the Arabic script. Thus,in the east,we have a long tradition of literacy in #Swahili and in the west in #Hausa, #Fulani, #Mandingo, #Kanuri and #Songhai.

    1.2.1 Fulfulde Dialects.

    Fulfulde has many dialects, this is not strange because if we consider the submission of Diallo (1991:155):


    No known natural language is homogeneous throughout the entire territory where it is spoken. Among those factors which act upon,and influence the language from one side to the other are the diversity of geographical, economic and social conditions, migrations inside and outside the territory in question and contacts with other groups.

    Each of the dialects has been described by scholars and researchers such as Taylor (1932), Arnott (1970, 1974), Skinner (1978), McIntosh (1984) Miyamoto (1991), Ka (1991), Daudu (1995) and Girei (2008). The scholars are not in full agreement about the number of Fulfulde dialects.However, Arnott‟s (1970) classification of the dialects into six major groups has won so much support from subsequent researchers. The classification goes thus:

    i.Fuuta-Tooro -Senegal
    iii.Maasina Maali
    iv.Sokoto and Western Niger
    v.Central Northern Nigeria and Eastern Nigeria

    Commenting on the dialects of Fulfulde, Brackenbury (1903) argues that the purest form of the language is found among the wandering Bororo cattle herdsmen, who are the most exclusive branch of the Ful6e, and keep very much to themselves. Download for more
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