The Fulani people are a large tribe cutting across Nigeria, Niger Republic, and Chad in West Africa. Their major language is Fulfude, but they speak other languages like English, Hausa, and French. They are mostly nomadic Muslims who care mostly about their cattle. Physical characteristics of the Fulani include their curly hair and light skin.

Every tribe and every race has a specific set of traditions regarding different aspects of their way of life. One of the most important is marriage and the Fulani have a set of customs that underlie their how their marriages are conducted. Firstly, marriage is more of endogamy in this culture. This means people from the same lineage or ancestry are allowed to get married to each other. The principal reason for this is to preserve wealth or royalty within a certain bloodline.

Fulani bride

Women get married in their teens while the men in their early twenties. Among the Fulani people, there are several caste systems and political strata. People are not allowed to marry across strata or castes. The women are allowed to pick their partners which are done after a dance ceremony where they have the opportunity of sleeping with several men and then choosing one.

The Fulani traditional marriage is broken down into three stages, they are briefly discussed below:

The Sharo

Suitor being flogged during the Sharo

This process involves the brutal flogging of a suitor by other men. This is done to prove strength, courage, discipline, and bravery. The man isn’t expected to cry or shed a tear, it is seen as a sign of weakness and thus he may be rejected by the bride and her family. It is customary for the suitor to be accompanied by his family for moral support. The Sharo is not necessary across all Fulani tribes.

The Koogwal

This regarded as the most important aspect of the wedding ceremony. It involves the exchange of gifts and bride price between the bride’s and groom’s families. The family of the groom brings gifts presented to the bride’s family as her bride price and her family, in turn, gives a herd of cattle to the groom’s family. This aspect of the wedding makes it legal and binding.

The Kaabal

This is the Islamic rite that follows the legalization of the wedding. It is more like the blessings of the wedding and it does not require the presence of the couple as a necessity.

Fulani couple

Once all these three stages are accomplished, the bride is welcomed into her husband’s home by the women in his family and they live happily ever after.

See also:
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