VP Abba Tahir on Language Variations in Fulfulde

VP Abba Tahir on Language Variations in Fulfulde

On February 12, Prof. Abubakar Abba Tahir, VPUR, was the guest speaker at a Language and Society class on "Language Variations in Fulfulde.”

Prof. Tahir explained that the variations found in Fulfulde came about from the intrusion of other languages and cultures, resulting in the multiplicity of dialectal variations, which has affected as well as modified Fulfulde over time.

"Every language must borrow to evolve with the changing world.

‘’These variations may occur in cases of change of location, where the dialect of a new location becomes adopted, or where inter-tribal marriages, as well as mixing and mingling with people of different origins happens.

“If you were a Fula from a francophone country, your Fulfulde would tilt and sound like French or the many other local languages within the francophone colonies."

This also applies to the Fula of the Anglophone bloc like Nigeria where English and Hausa could intrude into their writings and everyday conversation.    

Prof. Tahir described the Fula, Fulbe, or Fulani people as the most itinerant race in the world with a population of more than 60 million spread across Africa.

He traced the origin of the Fula people in the world to inter-marriages between Bajjo Mango (a Jewish woman) and Uqba-Bin Nafi'a (an Arab). This tradition is one of the many schools of thought about the historical roots of the Fulbe.

Most of the Fula race came into Nigeria during the Jihad of Usman Dan Fodiyo. Along with his brother Abdullahi and some disciples, Dan Fodiyo, who came from Futa Toro in Senegal, settled in Northern Nigeria with a mission to challenge the un-Islamic practices of the then Hausa rulers. 

The Islamic reforms in the northern emirates infused by Dan Fodiyo and his disciples also resulted in the infusion of the Fula culture in their regions.

Today, Fulfulde language has spread across the country and has developed into Western, Eastern and Central dialects.

Today, out of the over a dozen premier emirates that resulted from the 1804 jihad, it is only in Muri (Jalingo, Taraba), Gombe, and Adamawa (Yola) that Fulfulde is spoken in the royal palaces.

However, because of its mingling with the predominant Hausa peoples of Northern Nigeria, much of the Fulfulde lexicon has intermingled and mixed with the Hausa vocabulary.

This and many other factors led to the coinage of the "Hausa-Fulani" phrase by Mvendaga Jibo in the 1970s.

The facilitator of the class, Dr. Hannah Mugambi, said the idea behind the lecture was to shed more light on the fact that no language has only a single and immobile vocabulary.

‘’I came across Prof. Abba speaking Fulfulde with another Professor from Senegal and I couldn't help but notice some variations in their utterances."

Khadija Shehu, a law major, said she found the class completely captivating. "Even as a Fulani, there were some things I didn't know that I learned about today."


Reported by Tina Bitrus