| · Also known as the Haalpulaaren
The Toucouleur, a sub group of the larger Fulani family of people groups live mostly in the Senegal River Valley region of Northern Senegal and Southern Mauritania. They are also found widely dispersed throughout other Western African countries. The Toucouleur population in Senegal numbers about 900,000 and worldwide the total population surpasses 1.7 million people. Unconfirmed reports estimate that as many as 20,000 Toucouleur could be living in Europe.
The Toucouleur Peoples are a class of their own
Traditionally sedentary farmers, the Toucouleur live in close-knit society groups and follow a patriarchal social structure. Community life is highly stratified into a hierarchy of Clans, 12 Casts and three social classes. The ruling aristocratic, clerical class was in fact the first to embrace Islam in the 11th century. Now most Islamic learning and scholarship comes through this class. Toucouleur “Marrabouts” or holy men are renowned throughout Western African. The middle class is composed of fishers, farmers, administrators and tradesmen. The lower middle class includes skilled craftsmen, storytellers and musicians etc. The lower class is made up of day laborers, servants and slaves, both free and bound. The cast determines the value of an individual in society. Toucouleur people mostly belong to the cast of religious leaders called the Tooroobe.
The Toucouleur Peoples are Muslims at heart
The Toucouleur are Muslims at heart, and are known as the defenders of the faith. It was through holy war that Toucouleur religious leaders exported Islam through most of West Africa. It is said with pride, that to be born Toucouleur, is to be born Muslim. However, Islamic practices are mixed with traditional animistic ideas and occult folk rituals. Divination, witchcraft and magic (often practiced by the Islamic cleric – the midibbo) are widespread. Amulets and charms are made and sold by religious leaders. A belief in “baraka” (supernatural power) is common and religious leaders thought to possess it are sought after for the miracles they can work.
In Senegal, a secular country open to evangelism, Christians have been reaching out to Pulaar speakers for at least 30 years. Although there are a number of Pulaar speaking converts in Senegal, few of these, about 18, are Toucouleur people. One could be accepted as a bad Toucouleur Muslim, but there is not yet any acceptance for Christians in Toucouleur society.
Prayer Guide for the Toucouleur Peoples
* Pray against the power of the Marabouts and the holy men so that people may be at liberty to hear the Gospel and choose for Christ.
* Pray for super natural revelations of Jesus through dreams and miracles or through the reading of literature – including the Qur’an (Koran) that also speaks of Jesus.
* Pray for the spiritual growth of converts that they may be true disciples of Jesus, and effective witnesses amongst their own people.
Video: Dakar, Senegal
Street Scenes of Dakar