Discourses on autochthony, citizenship and exclusion have become popular in Cameroon as well as in other parts of Africa, and lately even in Europe. This article considers the case of the Mbororo (agro-pastoral Fulbe) in north-west Cameroon (also known as the Western Grassfields) and their recent claims to regional citizenship and minority status.
The Mbororo are a minority in the region. They are perceived as strangers and migrants by local Grassfields groups who consider themselves their hosts and landlords. The Mbororo have long entertained host–guest and patron–client relations with their Grassfields neighbours. However, in the context of Cameroon's democratization and the constitutional changes of the 1990s, they have changed their political strategies, aiming at direct representation to the state. In 1992 MBOSCUDA (the Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association) was founded and gradually developed into a nationally influential ethnic elite association. While confirming the Mbororo as regional citizens, it successfully portrayed them as an ‘indigenous people’ both nationally and internationally. Moreover, many Mbororo of the younger generation have gradually developed emotional bonds with their home areas. Neighbouring groups have mixed feelings about these developments, as they may generate new conflicts.