The Fuladou: A traditional region of Senegal
QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE FULADOU:
Size: 10 000km2
Main ethnic group: the Fulas (Fulacounda and Fula Fouta)
Population: 300,000 – 400,000
Religion: 99% practice Islam
The Fuladou area extends roughly from Kolda in the west to the Niokolo Koba National Park in the east. It reaches into the Gambia in the north and into Guinea-Bissau in the south.
Here is what the first worker who arrived in the Fuladou region in 1936 wrote: “In those days the Fulas were a religious mixture of ‘drinkers’ (pagans) and ‘pray-ers’ (Muslims). The majority – some 80% – were said to be pagan.” But 6 years later, when he had to leave the country because of the Second World War, the Muslims had reversed the percentage, the minority now being pagan.
Today, all the Fulacounda are Muslims.
It was the 18th of June 1936, around midnight, in the midst of a tropical storm. Two young men arrived in a village called Velingara, somewhere far away, in the heat and humidity of the rainy season in southeast Senegal, at a time when there were hardly any roads, a time when you could still find on the sandy road the footprints of the five lions who passed by your hut during the night. It was 70 years ago!
Today, despite the many workers following in each other’s steps year after year, there are just a few Fulacounda followers of Jesus. The Fuladou needs groundbreakers who will share the simple life of the Foulacounda in order to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to them. They are very open, but pressure of life and society make perseverance in the Jesus way difficult for them. You can help.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE SONINKE
Population: 1.6 million
Religion: >99% practice Islam
Less than 100 known followers of Jesus in the world
Homelands: Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, The Gambia, and Guinea Bissau, though large groups of immigrants are working in France, Spain, the United States, etc.
If we ask people in the south east of Senegal for typical characteristics of their Soninke neighbours, their response is: The Soninkes are hard-working, and if someone wants to make an impression, he too must be hard-working; they are strong Muslims and prefer to send their children to Koranic schools to learn the Koran by heart than to send them to the government school; family ties are stronger than in other ethnic groups; they follow their traditions closely, are very aware of their ethnic identity, and are a tight-knit community; they are rich in comparison to other ethnic groups, and even in small villages one finds a majority of cement-block houses rather than the usual mud hut, and tractors or private cars alongside the usual donkeys and bicycles.
The Soninkes are spread over at least 5 West-African countries. It is in Mali that they are the most numerous, but are also well represented in Senegal, The Gambia and Mauritania. The Soninke are predominately subsistence farmers. Some of them are affluent commercial traders. Many Soninke men go to foreign countries for work. Large communities of Soninke can be found in France, Spain and the United States, as well as in African countries where diamonds can be found. They work abroad and contribute to the welfare of the whole family in their home country by sending money regularly.