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The Fulɓe (Fulani, Peulh, Fulfulde, Pular, Fellata), an ancient people of sub-Saharan Africa, of unknown origins. Some say that they are descended from the ancient pharaohs of Egypt.

The largest nomad tribe in the world, they are considered heirs of legendary beauty. They were the shepherds of the sun, a deeply matriarchal society, a gynecocracy where the inheritance was matrilineal.

Fulani protector of Cattle

fine art portrait of a golden african goddess of the Fulbe tribe

They have a very rich oral tradition that persisted through widespread Islamization. They were dedicated to cattle, and milk was their main food and currency. They would exchange it at the market in form of milk, butter or cream. They hardly ever ate meat or killed their cows and they lived in perfect harmony with them, protecting them in exchange for their milk. "The strength of the Pullo is in the bovine; if he loses it, he will face distress.” You could tell the strength of the tribe by the cloud of dust their cattle raised. 

Fulani devotion to their cows began in the Sahara about 12.000 year ago, when the area was a well-watered land. As the desert advanced, they both migrated westward together, leaving behind engravings of their pastoral lifestyle and hints of their cosmogony.

Geno created the universe from a drop of milk. First came the cow, then the woman, and finally the shepherd.

"In a pastoral society such as the Fulɓe, the woman and the cow are inseparable; they are to be loved together because according to the legend “God created the Cow. He created the Woman, He created the Pullo. He put the Woman behind the Cow and the Pullo behind the Woman” thus creating the intimate trilogy." La Femme, La Vache, La Foi (The Woman, The Cow, The Faith), Alfâ Ibrâhim Sow, ed. (1966)

Today the Fulɓe are mostly sedentary and live in more than 18 African countries. They are estimated at 40 million. However some groups, like the Woɗaaɓe of Niger, northern Nigeria and Cameroon remain nomads.

We chose Foroforondu, the goddess protector of cattle and milk. She was an obvious choice for our model, a Fulɓe descendant, veterinarian that works for the welfare of milk cattle in southern Chile.

In the most traditional possible way, her grandmother told her how they would protect the cattle by drawing a circle around them. 

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