Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1984


Across the savannah lands of West Africa are scattered the pastoral Fulani (Fulbena'i). They are a nomadic people who move in rhythm with the rain cycle. During the dry season they move in closer to the riverine areas. During the wet season they withdraw into the bush to escape the disease carrying tsetse flies. After the harvest season their cattle can be seen grazing on the grain stubble left behind by the farmers. In return the fields are manured for the farmers. In the markets the pastoralists can be seen selling their dairy products and buying grain. They are nominally muslim but always seem more interested in cattle than in religion. They have only marginally been affected by the modernisations taking place around them. Their life-style and subsequent lack of interest in formal education effectively insulates them from modem life. It is their resistance to change that is both a challenge and a burden to educationists. If attempts to bring the Fulani into the mainstream of modern life are to be successful more needs to be known about these people. This is especially so if one wants to avoid humiliating a proud and self-reliant people.

In this study we have examined one portion of Fulani culture, their folktales. There are many types of folktales and they all give insight into the subtleties of the collective view that a people holds of its society and world.

Published Citation

Cobern, William W.; Umar, Abdurrahman, and Junaidu, Mohammad I. Traditional education and folktales: a stimulus to literacy amongst the nomadic Fulani. Durham and Newcastle Research Review. 1984 Spring; X(52):130-133.