The Toucouleurs (or Haalpulaar’en) are a Fula agricultural subgroup-people who live primarily in West Africa: the north of Senegal (where they constitute 15% of the population) in the Senegal River valley, and Mauritania is their background, but on the last three centuries some of them imigrated to Mali.
The name Toucouleur has a debatable origin, with some sources stating it as a French creation meaning "all colors", and other sources citing it as a term that predates colonialization meaning "people from Tekrur", considering them the descendants of the Iron Age state of Takrur, which would make the present French form popular etymology. According to the oral traditions of the Toucouleurs and Serer people, the Toucouleurs claim descent from Serer and Fula ancestors.1 This tradition is supported by many scholars including Foltz and Phillips.12 A joking relationship exist to present between the Serers and Toucouleurs, albeit the historical the Battle of Fandane-Thiouthioune (1867) also known as the Battle of Somb.
The Toucouleurs speak the Fouta-Toro dialect of Pulaar (Fula). They call themselves Haapulaar’en, which means "those who speak Pulaar". They are largely Muslim, although a small number are animist. Culturally, the Toucouleur only differ from other Fulas by the sedentary nature of their society.
When girls turn thirteen years old, they are considered eligible for marriage, or dewgal, which is arranged by her parents. While the bride-to-be celebrates with her friends, the groom goes to the mosque to validate the marriage. Later, the bride and her family go to the husband's house, where they will sit with elders and discuss the marriage. The next day, the bride's aunt will determine if the girl is a virgin, and then bathe and massage her. The bride greets the village and then her husband, and food is prepared, and eventually the celebration ends.
One week after pémbougale (childbirth), the baby is named and a googo (sister of the father) cuts its hair. The father tells the marabout the name he has chosen, after which the marabout whispers the name in the infant's ear and prays. Following this, the marabout informs a griot or gawlo, of the name that has been chosen, and the griot announces the name to the village.
- This article is based on a translation of the corresponding article from the French Wikipedia, accessed July 5, 2005.
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