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Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 09:44 GMT
Identity: Who do you think you are?
Composite of pictures showing a zebra, men drinking from a gourde, a woman carrying oranges, Kwame Nkrumah, Somali passports, an Egyptian football fan and Ethiopian veteran soldiers.

As Ghana celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence this month - an event that symbolised the beginning of the end of colonialism in Africa - the BBC's competition for Africa explores the continent's identity.

Here, the BBC News website reader Chernor Saidu Jalloh describes who he is.


Chernor Jalloh
During my interview with the Spanish police at Madrid airport when I was seeking asylum, they shortened my name to Chernor Jalloh.


But Chernor is not my first name - it is an African term of respect for a scholar, which I inherited from my grandfather.

He was very well educated and knew the Koran by heart.

I belong to a large ethnic group known as the Fulas, who live in many West African countries.

In Nigeria they are called the Fulanis; in French they are called the Peul.

I can still remember the Fulas were beaten and put on lorries and sent away by the police to the border with Guinea
According to history, the Fula people were those who brought Islam to West Africa.

They were nomads, moving from one place to another in search of better grazing for their cattle.

But when they arrived from some Arab countries with their Islamic religion many opted to settle in Fouta Djallon - the highland region of Guinea - with their animals.

Even though I was born in Sierra Leone, the son of Guinean parents, I was called a foreigner by some of my school mates for being a Fula.

In fact, as I was growing up I sensed a tribal atmosphere hanging in the air.

Looting

I can still remember during the 1980s when the many Fulas from Guinea who were doing business in Sierra Leone were beaten and put on lorries and sent away by the police to the border with Guinea.

Their shops were looted and slogans were chanted against them: "Fulas are thieves and also butterflies, because they have no country of origin."

The Fulas have been targeted elsewhere too.

In 1993, heavy fighting broke out between the Peul and the Susus in Guinea, as the presidential elections were getting closer, which left many dead and injured.

And in The Gambia, many Fulas from Guinea were rounded up and put in jails for not paying their taxes.

But my theory has always been and will ever be - live and let live whoever you are.

In Spain, nobody knows about the Fulas - and I am often taken for a Somali.

But there is racism here too - some of my African friends have been beaten up.

Yet a beggar has no choice and I like Spain for the time being.

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

Let us know whether you identify yourself first and foremost with your family, your ethnic group, your country, your region or your continent. How does that affect the way you behave and the way you see the world?

If you have photos to accompany your contribution send them to newsonline.africa@bbc.co.uk, otherwise use the form at the bottom of the page.

Entries should be no more than 300 words.

The best will be published on the BBC News website, broadcast on the BBC World Service's Network Africa programme and entered into a prize draw to win a week-long visit to London.

Name
Your E-mail address
Town & Country
Comments

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.





MANDELA AT 90

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

 

Girl hanging out cloth to dry in Mali, West Africa [Photo: Barry Perks] Your take
Send us your photographs from across the continent

 

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