The Fulani and Cattle Breeds: Crossbreeding and Heritage Strategies
- Africa: The Journal of the International African Institute
- Edinburgh University Press
- Volume 77, Number 1, 2007
- pp. 18-36
- Additional Information
This article examines the tensions between memory, identity and livelihoods in the making and transformation of cultural patrimony among Fulani cattle keepers of West Africa. Two areas of cattle breeding are examined: the Grassfields of Cameroon and south-western Burkina Faso. Studies on Fulani livestock raising suggest that each group possesses a particular cattle breed that has not changed with time. While the Fulani are thought to be conservative pastoralists, their livestock management practices suggest otherwise. They cross and change cattle breeds in order to adapt to new ecological or socio-political conditions. These strategies of adaptation and adjustment of cattle seem to be in opposition to strategies of heritage conservation. The relationship between Fulani pastoralists and their cattle breeds shows that an animal patrimony is a social product that is susceptible to being reworked. Fulani cattle breeding shows that new crossbreeds can result in the construction of a new heritage over the medium and long term as long as it is transmitted from the present to the next generation and preserved for a period of time.