As the name suggests, the Hausa/Fulani are two ethnic groups which were formerly distinct but are now for all practical purposes intermixed to the extent of being regarded as one inseparable ethnic nation. Although found throughout the grassland belt of West Africa, the bulk of the Hausa/Fulani population is concentrated in Northern Nigeria especially in and around the urban centres of Sokoto, Kano and Katsina which were important market centres on the southern section of the trans-Saharan caravan trade routes in the past.
The Hausa had established well organised city states before the advent of the Fulani. These states included Katsina, Daura, Kano Zazzau (Zaria), Biram, Gobir and Borno. Some of these were conquered and re-established by the Fulani. A few other kingdoms such as Katagum, Hadejia and Gombe were founded.
The coming of the Fulani into Hausaland resulted in significant changes in the area. They brought the full force of Islam which became a great factor of social life and culture. In education, dress, taste and outlook, the Hausa and their Fulani conquerors became part of the Islamic culture world. This influence remains till today.
Many Hausa people continue to be subsistence farmers, with a few practising mixed farming. Others are skilled craftsmen, such as leather workers. The Fulani on the other hand comprise’ ruling dynasties, semi-sedentary farmers, settled farmers, but in the main pastoralists.
Today, Hausa/Fulani influence has spread over much of the culture areas to its immediate south where the Hausa language has become important.
The Hausa and Fulani people are located mostly in northern part of Nigeria. With a population of over 30 million, they have the largest population in West Africa because of their intermarriages and constant interaction with different peoples.
With the decline of the Nok and Sokoto, who had previously controlled Central and Northern Nigeria between 800 BCE and 200 CE, the Hausa were able to emerge as the new power in the region. Closely linked with the Kanuri people of Kanem-Bornu (Lake Chad), the Hausa aristocracy adopted Islam in the 11th century CE.
In 1810 the Fulani, another Islamic African ethnic group that spanned across West Africa, invaded the Hausa states.
The cultural similarities of these two group, however, opened doors for a significant integration between the groups, who in modern times are often demarcated as “Hausa-Fulani”, rather than as individuated groups.
The Hausa remain pre-eminent in Northern Nigeria. Their impact in Nigeria is paramount, as the Hausa-Fulani amalgamation has controlled Nigerian politics for much of its independent history.
They remain one of the largest and most historically grounded civilizations in West Africa.
People & Culture
The Hausas are Sahelian people mainly located in northern Nigeria, southeastern Niger, Sudan, Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Chad and many Fulani in these regions do not distinguish themselves from the Hausa.
The Hausa have been Muslim since the 14th century, and have converted many other Nigerian tribes to the Muslim faith by contact, trade etc. The architecture of the Hausa is perhaps one of the least known but most beautiful of the medieval age. Many of their early mosques and palaces are bright and colourful and often include intricate engraving or elaborate symbols designed into the facade.
Music and art play important role in everyday life of this group of people. From a young age, Hausa children participate in dances, which are held in meeting places such as the market.
Work songs often accompany activities in the rural areas and in the markets. Story-telling, local dramas, and musical performances are also common forms of traditional entertainment.
Major towns and cities
Many of the towns and cities in northern Nigeria had been predominantly occupied by the Hausa-Fulani people dated back to the stone age. Amongst these main cities are: Kano City – known as the groundnuts pyramids and indigo city. Others are Biram, Katsina, Abuja, Bauchi, Birnin Kebbi, Damaturu, Dutse, Gombe, Gusau, Jalingo, Jebba, jos, Kaduna, Katsina, Lafia, Maiduguri, Makurdi, Sokoto, Suleja, Yola, Zaria.