detail of a tent in a Peulh encampment...

This photo is by Gerhard Hans, Germany, ABIS member.


Brian Reiter said...

That is really cool. FWIW, "Peulh" is actually Wolof, Fula is Manding, and Fulani is Hausa. I believe they call themselves Fulbhe. I think it's kind of like how Tuareg is the outsider name for the Imashaghen or Kel Tamasheq. The Fulbhe are spread throughout West Africa covering the entire Sahel and well to the south as far as Cameroon, Ghana and Liberia; East all the way to the Sudan. Because they are spread over such a large area their language has fractured into three major dialects: Pular, Pulaar and Fulfulbhe. I learned a little Pular in Gambia and a couple of years later in Mali, I couldn't understand a word past "ajarama" (hello), "tanala" (how are you) and "jam tan" (peace only, which is the polite reply to every one of the 5 million greeting variations.)

The tent poles are beautiful. All of the Fulbhe that I have ever met were settled in permanent villages and lived in round mud brick houses with grass roofs or lived in concrete block homes with tin roofs.

Though settled, they did generally still have cattle and keep dogs that are nearly indistinguishable from Azawakh but they were eating what my grandfather calls "milo" sorghum as a staple rather than sweet millet. The local word for it was "coos" and I think it is all encompassing of the whole sorghum family including millet. I don't know if "coos" is a proper Pular, Pulaar or Fulfulde word or a Senegambia term. I kind of think it is, though, because the first time I bought Millet at the Whole Foods my cashier was from Mali and she was stunned that they sold "coos" at the Whole Foods.

But I digress. At first I thought they were talking about couscous and was fairly excited about dinner the first time. Dissapointed!

In my opinion the milo coos stuff is utterly awful. There was absolutely no butter, just some kind of nondescript oil-based sauce. I used to call it sour sand, because it is (a) sour and (b) full of grit. I can't eat enough of it to maintain weight even if I was starving.

Brian Reiter said...

"I learned a little Pular in Gambia and a couple of years later in Mali, I couldn't understand a word..."

That was because the Pulaar dialect in Mali was different enough from the Pular dialect in Gambia to overwhelm my meager skills. Kinda like the differences between English spoken in the Bronx vs. South Carolina.