The Fulakunda are a sub-group of the Fulani (or Fula), a vast cluster of peoples living throughout central and western Africa. Most of the Fulani are nomadic herdsmen, and almost all are considered Muslim. They are separated and grouped according to language, location, and occupation.
As the Fulani migrated southward to and through Guinea Bissau during the fifteenth century, some of them mixed with the Mandingo in the area. Those who intermarried with the Mandingo were considered "black," or preto. These Fulani became known as Fula Preto, or Fulakunda. They speak Fula Cunda (or Fula Preto), which belongs to the West Atlantic branch of the Niger-Congo language family. The Fulakunda are scattered throughout the northeastern, south-central, and southeastern regions of Guinea Bissau.
The region inhabited by the Fulakunda has a tropical climate with palm and mangrove trees. Flamingos, parrots, and leopards also share the region.
Although the Fulakunda have mixed cultures and have intermarried with the "black" groups in the area, they still practice many of the customs and traditions of the "pure" Fulani. Their lives center around their herds of cattle or sheep. In fact, the more cattle one owns, the wealthier he is considered to be. In addition, some Fulakunda are hired as herdsmen for various kingdoms in the Sudan, just as their fathers were before them.
Mixing agriculture with herding, the Fulakunda consume grains and milk as their staple foods. Meat is seldom eaten. In fact, only during important formal events, such as the naming ceremony or at the birth of a first son, is beef consumed. Even then, it is usually eaten only for ceremonial purposes. Donkeys, chickens, and dogs are kept on the farms.
The wuro (village) is the center of Fulakunda society. It is there that the women do most of their work. They prepare the evening meal, which takes about four or five hours. They also gather grass and twigs for the construction of their huts. Milking the cattle and preparing butter are other important chores. The men herd the cattle and dig wells. Sons over the age of 15 assume their fathers' work. The young men are directed and supervised by their fathers.
At 15, a boy builds and begins living in his own hut, which he will eventually share with his first wife. Subsequent wives will have huts of their own. The huts have interior walls made of mud and outer walls made of bamboo. The cone-shaped roofs are covered with palm leaves.
For the most part, the Fulakunda, like other Fulani herdsmen, are illiterate. Although they may lack a scholarly grasp on book knowledge, they are considered skilled social analysts. Some elders have traveled in many countries and know of the language, people, and culture of each.
The Fulakunda of Guinea Bissau are a Muslim people, following the teachings of Mohammed. They adhere strongly to virtues and good morals, such as justice, honesty, generosity, and patience.
The Fulakunda think of the village as a place of rules and obligations — a place for socially acceptable behavior. The bush, on the other hand, is a place of freedom, where they can act according to their own needs.
The Fulakunda hate to feel alone. However, they tend to hide their feelings, and the need for love and companionship is not expressed in public. Only through songs is this need freely acknowledged.
The Fulakunda of Guinea Bissau are virtually all Muslim. Although some Christian resources are available to them, less than 1% of the Fulakunda have become Christians. They are very devoted to Islam, probably because they were responsible in helping spread it throughout much of Africa. Fervent prayer is needed to break the stronghold Islam has on their lives.
Source: Pray Way