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Sudan / Peoples /

People in the Jabal Marra massif in western Sudan, with a population of between 1 and 2 million (2007 estimate). Their provinces, North, West and South Darfur, are named after the Fur. The Fur make up less than 30% of the total population of Darfur, which has a total of 7 million (2007 estimate).
They speak the Fur language, which belongs to the Nilo-Sahran family.
The Fur society is organized according to feudal principles, with rich landowners and their serfs. Outside the feudal ties, but acting next to it, are craftsmen.
The main economic activity is agriculture, and the crops are varied largely because of the temperate climate in the mountains. The most common crops are cotton and tobacco; in addition there are wheat, maize, peanuts, beans, hibiscus, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic and pumpkins.
The Fur have adhered to Islam since the 16th century.
They formed strong independent kingdoms up until the 16th century in a larger region than today. An Arab invasion drove them up into the mountains. Relations between the Fur in the mountains and the Arab nomads have been tense since the 1950's. In 1988 the two clashed bloodily. The conflict was partly settled, but burst out again in 2003, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Fur seeking refugee in neighbouring Chad.

By Tore Kjeilen