OPINION: Breaking the stereotypes surrounding Fulbe Nyallunko

Written by Omar Baldeh

Opinion

The Ŋallunkoɓe dialect of Fulas, is a dialect just like any other dialect of Fulas. If not the smallest, they are one of the smallest dialect of Fulas and they are mainly found in The Gambia and Senegal.

They are said to have originated from Masina in Mali. As a reason for many other dialect of Fulas, the Ŋallunkoɓe also migrated as pastoralists.

The Ŋallunkoɓe are believed to have entered The Gambia through the North Bank Region. They were hosted by the Kaɓoɓe dialect of Fulas. The name ŋallunke is believe to be given to them by the Kaɓoɓe because of the habit of the then elderly Ŋallunkoɓe men of having a walking stick which is called ŋallaru in kaɓoje.

Another origin of the name Ŋallunkoɓe in which most of the Ŋallunkoɓe believe is, the then Ŋallunkoɓe women have a traditional hair plaiting style, in which they join all the braids (garri/gatti ln Fula) to form one up pointing braid (aruru/aturu in Fula) which is called ŋalluru. At first they were called ŋallurunkoɓe, so the name ran from ŋallurunkoɓe to ŋallunkoɓe or ŋallurunke to ŋallunke.

Fulɓe Ŋallunkoɓe are painted with bad image in many communities to an extend many ŋallunkes do not want to be call by their name in public because they are afraid about how the society will see them.

The Ŋallunkes are classified as witches and if one have sex with their ladies, he will die poor. This image is painted on the ŋallunkoɓe because: The then elderly ŋallunkoɓe were involved in magic and they believed in it, not more than anyother dialect of Fulas but they did displayed magic in public more than all other dialect of Fulas, as a result they were classified witches but they were magicians.

In the Ŋallunke communities by then, it was an ancestral believe that if a man happens to have sexual intercourse with a girl before marriage, the man will die poor. So the ŋallunke elders used to advice their unmarried sons by telling them "if you have sex with any girl in the village, you will never be a rich man". This was used to control the young men but mainly to adhere to the ancestral believe. So this statement was later misinterpreted to, if one have sex with a ŋallunke girl you will die poor and now to if you marry a ŋallunke you will die poor.

The Ŋallunkoɓe are one of the, if not the only Fulɓe dialect which have succeeded in partial elimination of caste system among them. They have (Jiyaɓe and Rimbe) among them but very few of their elder still stick to the caste system and few of their young ones know the class they belong to.

By Omar Baldeh