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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 17:17 GMT
Walking with young Fulani nomads
Fulani boy herding cattle (Pic: Mike Blyth)
Herding cattle is the key job for most young Fulani boys
While children elsewhere in the world focus on technology, the young Fulani nomads in West Africa still follow the traditional way of life. As part of the BBC's Generation Next series, Idy Baraou has been talking to some of the youngsters about their lives on the move.

Young nomads taking their animals to graze are far from the light of electricity, the sound of motor vehicles or from water running from a tap.

Walking with his animals, just as his parents did before him, I found 19-year-old Ibrahim Adamu, at Rugar Koloba, in Bayero local government area in Nigeria, when he was getting his cattle ready for pasture.

Nana, his mother - her pestle in hand - is busy pounding grains in the mortar to prepare the lunch he would have while he was out with the animals for grazing.

Map of West Africa

"In the morning, I attend to the cattle, pick ticks off them, and then take them to pasture," Ibrahim says.

"In the dry season we take them to pasture in the marshland. But in wet season, they can graze anywhere."


In one year, Fulani can walk for about 3,000 kilometres between areas like Ouahigouya in Burkina Faso, Bolgatanga in Ghana, Djougou in Togo, Malanville in Benin Republic, Birnin Kebbi in Nigeria and N'guigmi and their Zoobaba base in Niger.

These nomads can reach these places without losing their way. And they do not use mobile phones or satellite to guide them.

Some of them take responsibility for leading the herd, even before they reach the age of 10 - while some of them are born during such journeys.

Fulani boy with elder (Pic: Virtual Institute of Mambila Studies)
Some boys are now keen to leave the tribe once they grow up

"I was under apprenticeship from the age of seven - by age 10 I had graduated," Ibrahim says.

Another young man I met was 13-year-old Buraimah Hammadou.

Although he is milking the cows with his father, he tells me he has his own ambitions, outside the tribe.

"When I grow up, I want to be a teacher," he tells me.

It is likely that the nomads' tradition may not remain a permanent fixture.

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