Fulani, Maasina in Mali

Map Source:  People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Fulani, Maasina
Country: Mali
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 1,398,000
World Population: 1,953,300
Primary Language: Fulfulde, Maasina
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.01 %
Evangelicals: 0.01 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Fulani / Fulbe
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Fula Kita (also known as the Maasina Fulani) are located predominantly in the Maasina region of Mali. However, there are other smaller communities of Maasina Fulani in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. The language spoken by these Fulani people is called Peul, or Fuladougou. Peul, which is a part of the West Atlantic branch of the Niger-Congo language family, has two dialects: eastern and western.

Major groups in Mali include the Bambara, the Tuareg, the Soninke, the Sénouf, the Songhai, the Malinké, and the Fulani. Nomadic Tuareg and other Berber tribes roam the Sahel region and parts of the Sahara Desert.

The Maasina region of Mali is a full-fledged geographical and political state located in the central part of the country. The culture and lifestyle of the Maasina Fulani who live there are virtually identical to those of the other Fulani peoples in West Africa.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Maasina Fulani make a living mainly from farming and raising cattle. Gathering forest products, hunting, fishing, and trading are also part of their daily lives. Staple crops include millet, rice, and peanuts. Cattle are their main type of livestock, but sheep and goats are also raised. The cattle are not the usual Fulani humped breed, but a native Fouta Djallon breed called Ndama, which is resistant to the disease-carrying tsetse fly.

Herding cattle is usually a male activity, although the women milk and help take care of the cattle. The women also tend to the small livestock and poultry, cultivate gardens, and carry containers of milk and cheese to the local markets for sale or trade.

Although Fula Kita villages are scattered, each village has a central court and a mosque. Together, these compose a miside, or community. Each miside has a headman who handles village affairs and answers to a chief.

Houses belonging to the settled Maasina Fulani are typically round with mud walls and thatched roofs. Each hut has an encircling veranda. The nomadic Maasina Fulani live in open, beehive-shaped huts with no walls or verandas. Each hut is surrounded by a cattle corral.

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 with some cattle. This new compound will become the home of the son and his future wife.

The first marriage of a man is usually arranged by the man's father. He helps his future father-in-law with his livestock as a "bride-service." Men usually marry while in their early twenties. Polygyny (the practice of having more than one wife) is common, up to the Muslim limit of four wives. There is one chief wife, however, who has authority over the other wives.

Children belong to "age-sets" until they marry. An age-set occurs at three or four year intervals, with every child born in those years belonging to that set. The children in an age-set go to school together and often work together. When the time for marriage arrives, they may even help one another with the bride-service. Within each age-set are a leader, a deputy, and a judge.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Maasina Fulani in Mali are almost completely Muslim. As such, they follow the teachings of the Koran, Islam's holy book. They believe that Allah is the only God and that Mohammed is his prophet. To teach their children the Muslim faith, some of the Fula Kita villages have established Islamic schools.

The Maasina Fulani are expected to follow a code of high moral behavior known as Pulaaku. Pulaaku extols virtues such as kindness, bravery, patience, tolerance, perseverance, honesty, diligence, generosity, and dignity. To be reserved is part of being dignified; thus, they are shy and modest in public. A mother does not show affection to her infant son. In fact, she never even calls her firstborn by his name all throughout his life.

What Are Their Needs?

Efforts to evangelize these people have resulted in only a very small number of Maasina Fulani believers. They are very devoted to Islam and view it as a fulfillment of their needs. To win the Maasina Fulani to Christ, further prayer is needed so that their hearts and eyes will be opened to the truth.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send Holy Spirit sent missionaries to join ones already working among the Maasina Fulani of Mali.

Pray that God will use Maasina Fulani believers to minister salvation to their families and friends.

Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Mali through worship and intercession.

Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Maasina Fulani.

Text Source:   Joshua Project