Fur people

Fur people

Infobox Ethnic group

poptime=about 0.5 million As of|1983|alt=in 1983 [ [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=fvr Ethnologue report for language code:fvr ] ]
popplace=Sudan, mainly Darfur.
rels=Sunni Islam
langs=Fur language,Arabic

The Fur (fòòrà in Fur, فور in Arabic) are a people of the western Sudan, principally inhabiting the region of Darfur, where they are the largestGettleman, Jeffrey, "Chaos in Darfur on rise as Arabs fight with Arabs", news article, "The New York Times", September 3, 2007, pp 1, A7] tribe.

They are a Western Sudanese people who practice sedentary herding and agriculture, mainly the cultivation of millet. Their society is a traditional one governed by village elders. They speak Fur, a Nilo-Saharan language, and are Muslims, having adopted the religion following the region's conquest by the Kanem-Bornu Empire during the Middle Ages. Some of them have come to speak Arabic in recent years.

The name of Darfur comes from the name of this tribe and means "the home of the Fur". Most renowned governors of Darfur such as Deriage and Tegani Seisei are members of the Fur. The Fur established the historical Sultanate of Darfur which governed Darfur until 1916 (see History of Darfur).
Abdulwahid Mohammed Nour, a member of the Fur, established the Sudan Liberation Movement and Army. Another leader of the tribe, as of| 2007|lc=on, is Ahmed Abdelshafi (Toba).

The traditional heartland of the Fur is the mountainous region around Jebel Sî and Jebel Marra Wadi Salih and Zaligi; today, however, most of them live in the lower country west and southwest of that area, between 11-14 N and 23-26 E. Some Fur live across the border in Chad, many of them refugees.

The Furs' lifestyle has led to conflict with the nomadic Baggara, cattle-herders of the region, concerning access to water and grazing land, particularly in Darfur's central Jebel Marra mountains where the best agricultural land is to be found. This has been the source of ethnic tensions for many years, culminating in the Darfur conflict, which began in 2003.

Many Fur villagers were massacred in the ethnic fighting as Mahria and Terjem tribes divided up land they conquered from the Fur, according to a September 3rd, 2007 "New York Times" account citing United Nations officials and Fur survivors.

The Fur are well-known for their Muslim piety. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/sudan/story/0,14658,1268773,00.html] de Waal, Alex, "Darfur's deep grievances defy all hopes for an easy solution", opinion article, "The Observer" of London, July 25, 2004, accessed September 4, 2007] They are also well-known for being so proud of their African identity, the main reason behind the Fur's opposition to all governments that have been ruling Sudan since 1956 and led by central and northern Sudan Arab elites. Although they are well-known for their Muslim piety, their Islam is very much mixed with their African traditions and customs. For many Fur, African traditions are more important than the Islamic instructions. Approximately all new Fur intellectuals are secular and tend to supporting the idea of New Sudan that was created by John Garang De Mabiour, the founder of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army.


The Fur are the largest ethnic group in the Darfur region of western Sudan. They are also sometimes referred to by the names Fora, Fordunga, Furawi, Konjara or Kungara. They are an active agricultural people and may also herd cattle. Some Fur families who have accumulated a substantial cattle herd developed a more nomadic lifestyle like that of their herding neighbors, the Baqqara (Baggara) Arabs. Culturally, those cattle-herding Fur are now considered to be Baqqara. The Fur are nominally Sunni Muslims following the Maliki school of Islamic law.


The Fur speak a fairly uniform Nilo-Saharan language also called Fur. Though they may speak Arabic in order to relate to their Arabic neighbors and the Sudanese central government, they very much retain their traditional identity.

Political Situation

Until 1916, the Fur were ruled by an independent sultanate and were oriented politically to peoples in Chad. Though the ruling dynasty before that time, as well as the common people, had long been Muslims, they have not been arabized. They are now incorporated into the Sudan political system. The Fur had been basically independent from the 1600s. After British reconquest in 1899, the British approved the re-establishment of the Fur Sultanate, assumed by Ali Dinar when the Mahdist movement crumbled.
Mahdist revolts continued to break out in Sudan until 1916. The fall of Darfur was actually decided, however, when Ali Dinar declared loyalty to the Ottoman Empire in World War I. The British abolished the Fur Sultanate in 1916, after Dinar died in battle. In World War I, Darfur made a bid for independence by allying with Turkey against the British. However, the British conquered Darfur in 1916, since then it has been part of Sudan. Since the 1970s, the Darfur area has suffered some of the effects of the northern Arab war prosecuted in the south against Southern tribes who wanted to secede from the Sudan.War has been the primary factor in the last few decades of the Darfur area. A civil war lasted about 20 years, until the end of the 20th Century. A new conflict arose in 2003, involving local Arab militia called Janjaweed attacking the African peoples village by village in a campaign of terror, reportedly supported by the Sudanese military.


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