Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Fulahs (properly Pulo, Pullo, plural Fulbe), one of the great nations of Central Africa, who have been politically dominant in West Soudan and Adamawa since the close of the 18th century, when the Hausa states were overthrown [Hausa], and the Fulah empire of Sokoto founded by the Mohammedan reformer, Dan-Fodio (Othman Dan-Fodie). The name occurs under many variants, such as Fula of the Mandingans; Fulaji, Fellani, Fellanchi of the Hausas; Fulata, Fellata of the Kanuri (Bornu); Afut, Ifulan of the Southern Tuaregs (Berbers), Afellen, Ifellenen of the Northern Tuaregs; Fullan, Fellata of the Arabs; Fulahs, Fuli, Peul, Poul of European writers, besides Pular, Fulfulde, and other erroneous forms. The original seat of this remarkable people, at least in historic times, are the two districts of Futa-Toro on the left (south) bank of the Senegal river from Falemme to the coast, and Futa-Jalon (Fuladugu) in the Upper Senegal basin. Here alone are found large, unmixed Fulah populations; here alone the Fulahs have preserved their racial purity; here dwell, or originally dwelt, the Jel, Baa, So, and Beri, who, according to the national genealogies, form the four great branches of the Fulah race; lastly it was from these districts that the Fulahs under their fanatical leader, Dan-Fodio, overran a great part of Soudan, reducing innumerable petty Moslem and pagan states, establishing their political supremacy from the Niger to Lake Chad, and founding a vast number of scattered pastoral Fulah communities throughout the whole of West and Central Soudan as far east as Wadai and Dar-For. This great wave of political conquest, religious propagandism and social migration has thus spread in the direction from west to east, though the race itself appears to have moved in remote prehistoric times from the east or north-east westwards to their present homes in the Senegal basin. Barth brings them from the oases south of Morocco and Twat; and, if his view be correct, they may be identified with the Leukaethiopians ("White Ethiopians") whom Pliny places south of the Mauritanian Gaetulians between the Libyo-Egyptians and the Negroes north and south. Their widespread diffusion eastwards has been followed by extensive intermingling with other peoples, so that the Fulahs of Gondo, Sokoto, Adamawa, and other regions are not now always distinguishable from the surrounding Negro and Negroid populations. But when studied in Futa-Toro and Futa-Jalon, where they have kept aloof from the neighbouring Senegambian aborigines, the Fulahs are at once seen not to be Negroes. De Guirodon, who knew them well, speaks of their reddish-brown or light chestnut complexion, crisp but not woolly hair, straight and even aquiline nose, regular features, small, slim, and shapely figures, small, well-formed, and other traits which separate them entirely from the Negro, and seem to affiliate them rather with the Hamitic (Berber). But if they are originally Hamites, they have lost their Hamitic speech, the Fulah language belonging distinctly to the agglutinating order common to nearly all the Soudanese Negroes. Some of the grammars, however, composed by Reichardt, Krause, and others profoundly ignorant of this idiom, have given rise to strange misconceptions regarding its true character. (Capt. Th. Grimal de Guirodon, Les Puls, 1887; R. M. Macbriar, Grammar of the Fulah Language, 1854; General Faidherbe, Grammaire, etc., de la Langue Poul, 1882.)