They are called Fulani, Fulbé, Peuhl and are a proud nomad people. Experienced breeders and travelers, they are scattered in different tribes and countries in West Africa, each with their own aadaaji (i.e. customs, traditions in Fulah). As a Fulani, here are the lessons I think this culture taught me.
1. Be proud of who you are
Knowing where you come from, who your ancestors were, is the starting point of self discovery. It will help you understand why you behave and think the way you do. Be proud of who you are because your genealogical tree is what makes you unique. The values and the culture in which you have been raised are a wealth that you are able to pass on to your heir and people around you. Keep an open-minded eye when encountering people from another background because you could be humbled by their experience and values as well.
2. Living in harmony with nature is possible
As said, Fulani are breeders and used to travel from desert to water places to feed their cattle. They hence learned to respect the nature and use only the necessary resources they needed to live until the next harvest. In July the 29th, Humanity has spent all the resources that the Earth can regenerate in a year, according to WWF organization. This date is called the Overshoot Day and comes earlier year after year. We would need the equivalent of 1,75 planets Earth to manage our needs*. Living on credit is not sustainable for the next generations. Nonetheless, I think there is still hope and we could learn from the past and the ways our ancestors used to live. We should remember that we owe everything to the nature: the air we breath, the food we eat, the raw materials we use to build our societies, none of that would be possible without the gifts that nature gives us.
3. Your identities are multiple and will evolve trough time
The world keeps evolving with urbanism, industrialization, globalisation, new technologies etc. You are influenced by those changes and your identities will grow and shift with them. Your identities are plural since individuals can’t be defined by only one parameter. For instance, you might have origins from a foreign country and live in another, at some point. You will build and shape your own values and be influenced by others’. Looking back, you will be amazed to see how much your beliefs changed and became part of who you are.
4. Being part of a community makes the human being a social animal
And by that I mean a real community. Fulani live in small communities. Several generations of a family often live together. The elderly teach the younger ones the stories of their people and all they need to adapt in life. And when the time comes, children take care of their parents. Meeting people in real life and supporting each other is in Human nature. Be part of a community with the same interests. You will then be able to meet people like you and some who are more experimented in life. Learn from them, sharpen your skills and intuition.
5. Be ready to embrace life challenges
Throughout seasons, life can be though. Feeding and housing can be arduous. Fulani had to anticipate life challenges and prepare for them. From nomadism to settling down they needed to give up some habits to embrace others. Indeed, human beings have the ability to adapt to the world changes and make their life even better than before. We should not underestimate this strength and draw from it to overcome any economical, environmental and social crisis that might come in the future.
6. Time is the most precious resource (apart from water)
Enjoy the present moment. That is something you will never be able to have again. Money can’t buy it. Just like water, it is a resource that can be rare but that everyone needs. Take time for yourself and your loved ones. Also spend time doing what you love or finding what you are truly made for. You will never regret working on yourself.
Although water is so precious, it is one of nature most powerful elements. One can try to control it but in the end water is free to flow where it wants to, get around stones and any obstacle. Here is the link to an interesting TEDx Talk about the lessons we can learn from water.
You can take example on it and become the source of creation of your own life.