“Fulbe gila Héli-e- Yooyo haa Fuuta-Tooro” by Aboubacry Moussa Lam, revisits the origins of the Fulani.


The Egyptologist historian, Professor Aboubacry Moussa Lam of the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, never tires of researching the origins of the Fulani. He recently authored a book, written in Pulaar, entitled ”Fulbe Gila Héli-e- Yooyo haa Fuuta-Tooro” (The Fulani from Héli and Yoyo to Fouta Tooro), co-published by the Presses Universitaires de Dakar and Editions Papyrus Afrique.

The origin of the Fulani has been a concern of many researchers. Whether European or African, everyone went there with their thesis. Thus Dr. Lelèvre (1882) argues that the Fulani have Gaullian origins because of their fair complexion. Colonel Frey, (in 1880) advances a Vietnamese origin of the Fulani, who would have founded the first kingdom in West Africa in Ghana and founded Canada.

Maurice Delafosse, in his book Haut-Sénégal-Niger (1912) maintains that the Fulani are descended from Cham, Fut, or Fud described in the stories of the Jewish prophets. The Jews had come to Egypt then under the reign of the Hyksos. When the Hyksos were defeated, the Fut or Fud settled in Cyrenaica between Libya and Egypt on the Mediterranean shore. Refusing to convert to Christianity under the pressure of the Romans, they left these places to the south to settle in Timbuktu via Morocco

Cheikh Anta Diop is also one of those researchers who have tried to untangle the skein to find the origins of the Fulani who, according to him, were at the origin of black complexion even if a tendency wants to present them as having light complexion. These Fulani come from Egypt, says Cheikh Anta Diop, believing that their language, Pulaar, had no resemblance to any European language. Their fair complexion is the result of interbreeding between Egyptians and white peoples who came to work in Egypt or who were under the control of Egyptian power at the time.

Professor Aboubacry Moussa Lam

 If Aboubakry Moussa Lam shares these theses and those of many authors, including Amadou Hampathé Bâ, Yoro Boly Diaw, and Yéro Sylla, he nevertheless finds limits to these writings. This prompted him to dig deeper by using the story “Héli é Yooyo” (Héli and Yooyo). Was “Héli é Yooyo” in Egypt near the Red Sea as Hampathé Bâ claimed? For Aboubacry Moussa Lam, this territory was to be on the banks of the Nile between Egypt and Ethiopia and the surrounding countries.

The work “Fulbe Gila Héli-e-Yooyo haa Fuuta-Tooro” is divided into two parts. The first retrace the theses on the origin of the Fulani, while the second is entitled “Héli and Yooyo was in Egypt”.

In this territory, the Fulani, known for the activity linked to livestock breeding, also lived with other ethnic groups who would find themselves together in West Africa during the great waves of migration from Egypt. There were especially those who will later be called the Haal-Pulaar (those who speak the Pulaar language) who were farmers, fishermen, blacksmiths, and hunters. Fulani and Haal-Pulaar have a common language, according to Professor Lam.

n Fouta Toro, the Fulani hegemony takes shape with the power of the Denyankoobe which will be pushed towards the fall in 1776 by the Almamy Revolution. It was at this time that a new order was born.

Agriculture regains its rights. And the Muslim religion becomes the cement of social life to the detriment of ancient beliefs. And those who had mastered the Koran become at the center of decision-making and are consulted. With this news, the Fulani were forced to convert to Islam or migrate. As a result of this new wave of migration, the word Haal-Pulaar will remain only in Fouta Tooro and Boundu.

If in Fuuta Tooro, the Haal-Pulaar reigned continuously over a long period, the Fulani will take power elsewhere many years later. This is the case for the Kingdom of Macina (Mali), Sokoto (Nigeria), and Fouta Jalon (Guinea). In these territories, the Fulani has remained an ethnic group in its own right, while in Fouta Tooro, it has been placed in the myriad of castes.

In his book, the author also tackles the problem of the future of the Fulani. To ensure a happy future, it is essential that they obtain dynamic wealth and acquire a well-developed language. To do this, they must have perfect control of their fight and know what the priorities are in this fight.

Disciple of Cheikh Anta Diop, Professor Aboubacry Moussa Lam makes the Fulani, their language, and their civilization his specialty. After having published works on these people, first in French, he wrote several works in Pulaar, with the aim of helping the Fulani to know themselves better and the paths they must follow to perpetuate and develop their civilization.

This new book complements his famous work in French, “De l’Origine Egyptienne des Peuls” (his doctorate thesis). Aboubacry Moussa Lam also wrote, in Pulaar, books entitled ”Paalel Njuumri” (The Honey Gourd) and ”Sawru Ganndal” (The Staff -Stick-of Knowledge).

This article was published originally in French under the title: Un nouvel ouvrage d’Aboubacry Moussa Lam revisite les origines des Peuls by APS

Professor Aboubacry Moussa Lam’s Works in French:

  • Les chemins du Nil: les relations entre l’Egypte ancienne et l’Afrique
  • De l’origine égyptienne des Peuls.
  • La fièvre de la terre.
  • Le Sahara ou la vallée du Nil?: aperçu sur la problématique du berceau de l’unité culturelle de l’Afrique Noire.
  • L’affaire des momies royales: la vérité sur la reine Ahmès-Nefertari.
  • Le Triomphe de Maât.
  • L’unité culturelle égypto-africaine à travers les formes et les fonctions de l’appui-tête.

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