Preserving the Pulaar culture amidst modernisation: Interview with Fulbe Africa’s Ousman Sowe

pulaar

Young Gambians from the Fula ethnic linguistic grouping are poised to inspire a renaissance among Fula people from across Africa. Fulbe Africa, through online and offline outreaches has since been organising and mobilising Fula people around reclaiming and promoting the Fulbe culture. Read below our interview with the organisation’s president, Ousman Sowe.

What’s On-Gambia: When was Fulbe Africa formed and for which purpose?

Ousman:Fulbe Africa was formed three years ago on social media, it started as a group on Facebook and later registered with the Attorney General Chambers under the Ministry of Justice as a charitable organization. The main objective of the association is to promote unity amongst the different Fulbe dialects, promote Pulaarr and preserve culture and tradition (good cultural and traditional values) and preserve and promote the use of the Pulaar language.

The Association is not only limited to The Gambia. We hope to establish branches in other countries in the not-too-distant future hence the name Fulbe Africa.

How many active members do you have and what are their ages.

We have so many active members residing both in The Gambia and abroad. Our group on Facebook has over 21,000 members who live in not-less than 30 countries. There are members in different parts of the world and people who are not even Gambians. We’ve a member from Liberia who traveled from his country to attend our event.

Among the members do you have people from other ethnic groups?

All members are Fulbe, it is good to note that Fulbe Africa is a Fulbe Association. We want to associate with everyone but as at now our members are Fulbe. However, on the Facebook group we have hundreds who are not Fulbe which is great.

You recently celebrated your anniversary. How did you manage to get that huge crowd at Alliance?

Our programs are usually interesting, educative and exciting. Thus no one wants to miss them. I think it’s one of the best if not the best organised in The Gambia. A lot of people look forward to our anniversary now because they see what they don’t see anywhere. Everyone loves the different activities in our anniversary and remember, it’s always free with free food. The anniversary was well attended and perhaps more than 50% of the attendants had to remain standing till the end of the event. We are thinking of moving to a bigger venue next year because we’ve seen that Alliance is too small for the events now.

What were some of the activities on the stage that night?

We had different activities which were all very interesting. We had the cultural parade, drama skits, performances by different traditional troupes and pulaar rap artists, demonstration of traditional pulaar marriage ceremony, art exhibition, showing of Fulbe Africa made documentary on cattle herding (Ngainaka), review of books written in Pulaar, presentation of traditional Fulbe brides from different dialects.

Where do you get funding for Fulbe Africa?

Fulbe Africa members provide all the funds for all the activities we’ve had since establishment.

Are the wealthy Fula businesspeople not supporting?

Well we have not approached them for support, but they have shown a deep interest in our activities and some have been supporting us morally, which is just great.

How involved is your organization in the fight against early marriage which is rooted in many Fula communities?

Early marriage exists almost in all areas and it is our duty as people to sensitise our people. We have always used our platforms to educate and sensitise our people. That is why we identify groups to do dramas on areas that affect our people. Last year we had one on forced marriage and as we go we plan to sensitise our people on issues that affect them.

Anything else you want to say?

Fulbe Africa is a non-political and non-profit making association. We are mainly young people who have never known each other, but share a common interest in promoting and preserving culture. We love everyone; we believe that all people are equal. We believe that it is our responsibility as young people to ensure that our culture and tradition and language is preserved for generations yet unborn. Our culture is our identity and the extinction of African languages is going on at an alarming rate. We believe this is one way in which integration can be achieved. I challenge all ethnic groups to form similar associations. The development and promotion of African languages is a factor for integration and we want to assure you of greater things in 2016.

I wish to thank you on behalf of Fulbe Africa for granting us this opportunity.

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