Controversy Over Fulani Tribe Classification in 2024 Census Questionnaire

Controversy Over Fulani Tribe Classification in 2024 Census Questionnaire

By: Dawda Baldeh

As Gambians anticipated the commencement of the 2024 Population census, the Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS) questionnaire has faced criticism amidst the division of the Fulani tribe into three.

These questionnaires categorize the Fulani tribe into three: Fula, Tukulur, and Lorobo.

Among those who immediately condemned the segregation was Mama Kandeh, a prominent opposition leader speaking as an ordinary citizen, as he framed it.


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He challenged the census questionnaires for separating the Fula ethnic group into three sects, while all other language groups are treated as one group instead of being separated according to dialect.

Kandeh clarified that he is not speaking on behalf of his party or as a politician, but he is speaking as a concerned citizen whose tribe is being segregated.

“Why should those responsible for the census separate the Fula tribe into three? I challenge those responsible for the census to explain to us what the difference is between a Fula, Tukulur, and Lorobo.

All Fulas are the same, and all other tribes have different dialects but they are not separated, so why the Fulas?” Kandeh asked.

He described this act of segregation as unacceptable, noting that it cannot be tolerated.

“We can’t allow them to divide us as Fulas. Let them explain to us who is a Tukulur or Lorobo if they are not Fulas.

Do they (the census officials) understand our tribe more than us, the Fulas?

Let us unite as Fulas and condemn this in the strongest terms,” he emphasized.

Kandeh, who called on all Fulas to condemn the segregation, vowed to stand by his tribe to ensure the Fula ethnic group remains united.

“My concerns are purely apolitical,” he added.

The census questionnaire, which showed that the Fula tribe was divided into three, has been widely criticized and condemned.

This prompted a reaction from GBoS, who admitted that it was an error from their IT Unit and promised to rectify it.

Here is the response we obtained from GBoS in a statement from their meeting with Fulbeh Africa:

Nyakassi MB Sanyang and the Director of Coordination and Statistical Methods, Sanna Manjang, acknowledged that the issue was an unintentional error on their part.

They revealed that they had no intention of classifying the Fulbe ethnicity into different subgroups on the form, as they emphasized.

Mr. Sanyang said the current variables on the said form have been there for the past few decades and that the previous censuses were conducted using the same variables.

However, the listing of the subgroups below the Fula was a technical error from their IT unit.

According to him, the idea is to categorize Fula/Tukulor/Lorobo as one domain (Fula) to ease the work of the data collectors during data collection, and eventually, all that will be a single data entry unit for which the output will be presented as FULA only, not showing any of the subgroups.