Fula people of Sierra Leone

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The Sierra Leonean Fula people
Regions with significant populations
10% of Sierra Leone's population, primarily in: Northern province
Eastern province
Southern province
Western Area
Fula language
Islam over 99%
Related ethnic groups
other Fula people

Fula people of Sierra Leone is the third major ethnic group in Sierra Leone and a branch of the Fula people of West Africa. The Fula make up about 10% of Sierra Leone's population. The Sierra Leone Fula people settled in the Western Area region of Sierra Leone more than four hundred years ago as settlers from the Fouta Djallon Kingdom that expanded to northern Sierra Leone (Kabala, Bombali).

The Sierra Leonean Fula are traditionally a nomadic, pastoralist, trading people, herding cattle, goats and sheep across the vast dry hinterlands of their domain, keeping somewhat separate from the local agricultural populations. Many of the large shopping centers in Sierra Leone are owned and run by the Fula community.

Today over 99% of Sierra Leonean Fula are Muslims of the Sunni tradition of Islam. The overwhelming majority of Fula are adherent to the Maliki School within Sunni Islam. A significant number of the Sierra Leonean Fula population are found in all regions of Sierra Leone as traders.


The Sierra Leonean Fula villages are scattered, but each has a central court and a mosque. Together, these compose a miside (community). Each miside has a sub-chief who handles village affairs and who answers to a Sultan (chief). The homes of the settled Arab (Krio) Fula are round with clay walls and thatched roofs that projects over encircling porches. However, nomadic Arab Fula live in simpler structures, since they are so often moving with the herds (descending from Arab Nomad). These houses have neither walls nor verandahs, and are encircled by cattle corrals.

Daughters remain with their mothers until they marry. However, as soon as a son reaches puberty, he leaves the family compound and lives alone in a nearby compound, usually taking over a part of his fathers trade. This new compound will be the home of the son and his future wife.

Religious and traditional beliefs[edit]

The majority of Sierra Leonean Fulanis are Muslims. Few Christians can be found among them. Some of them practice herbal healings.

The "herd owner's feast" is one such ceremony. During this feast, a bull that has served ten seasons is presented, killed, and eaten.

The history of these peoples are of Arabs who settle in the region.


The Sierra Leonean Fula are primarily skilled traders in diamonds, gems, gold, lending but formerly cattle, with their lives depending upon and revolving around trade cattle herds prior to the 19th century. The status of a family can be determined by the size and health of its trade. The more a man knows about trade, the greater respect he is given by the community.

Trade is usually a male activity; however, the women tend to act as accountants for the family. They also tend to the small livestock and poultry, cultivate gardens, and carry containers of milk and cheese to the local markets for sell or trade. As Fula people are Muslim, a woman has all the rights and concerns provided her under Islam. In the Fula Family a mother is 7 times the father, as it pertains to respect and a mothers rights under Islam.

Notable Sierra Leonean Fula people[edit]

Chernor Maju Bah, current majority leader of the Sierra Amadu Wurie, First Minister of Education of Sierra Leone

Professor Abu Bakarr Bah, Ph.D.: Professor of Sociology, Northern Illinois University, IL, USA and Editor-in-Chief, African Conflict & Peacebuilding Review. Alpha Rashid Jalloh notable journalist and now magistrate

See also[edit]