The Pastoral Fulbe in the Funj regioin: A study of the Interaction of State and Society

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Elhadi Ibrahim, Osman
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The focus of this study is on the implications of various socio-economic and environmental transformations (commoditization and privatization of resources, environmental degradation, and war and security decline) in the Funj region, a densely populated area on the southeastern corner of the Sudan, on the pastoral Fulbe, a highly mobile migrant pastoral people originating from West Africa. Because the nomads cannot be regarded as isolated groups any longer and because state structure has come to affect the nomads immensely, the researcher studied these implications in the light of group relation to state and society. The main objective of this study is to identify the social mechanisms adopted by the pastoral Fulbe to cope with these transformations and to illustrate its impact on intra-group and inter- group ethnic relations. The study assumes that these transformations will lead to the integration of the pastoral Fulbe into the wider society and the national economy and will also lead to the rise of group ethnic and political consciousness and into changes in gender roles. Primary as well as secondary data were collected to realize the above-mentioned objectives. A fieldwork was conducted and the participant observation technique was basically used in the collection of data pertaining to 25 pastoral Fulbe camps. A broader socio-economic approach was applied to account for the multiple and complex factors that affect the pastoral Fulbe in their relations to the state and society. The study provided empirical data that challenge people's ideas about the pastoral Fulbe in the Sudan and the general image that the pastoral Fulbe are ecologically destructive, aggressive, isolated and non responsive to change. The study doubts that the pastoral Fulbe way of grazing is ecologically destructive and explained that they led withdrawn life and because they were harassed by the local groups but when the situation had changed, the pastoral Fulbe shifted to voice option and have integrated into the state and the society and some of them have been moving slowly towards claiming and autochthonous status. Moreover, they have developed relations of mutual support with the neighbouring x groups and even formed military alliances. The study also found that some changes have taken place in gender roles. Some flexibility in the division of tasks among household's members has been observed while some deviations from egalitarianism, paternal ideology and endogamy have been observed.
Pastoral Fulbe,Funj regioin,Interaction,State,Society