This paper draws on the experiences of Fulani of the Western Grassfields of Cameroon and on Cyprian Ekwensi's novel Burning Grass to argue that most so-called simple African societies are cosmopolitan in composition and outlook. This reality is often muted by state and scholarly obsession with sameness and difference. The paper discusses how two competing elite associations condone and contest such obsession in a context of complex postcolonial politics of rights and entitlements, wherein juridico-political citizenship is often challenged at local and regional levels by claims of autochthony. Both elite associations find justification and legitimation in state politics and policies. There are no permanent winners or losers in the Cameroonian state, which simultaneously accommodates and alienates contested claims and practices of being Mbororo-Fulani. In this game of indigeneity and citizenship umpired by the state, ordinary Mbororo-Fulani quickly understand how to accommodate the political elite and especially how to play one political elite against the other in the interest of change and continuity or of mere survival.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 104-134
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.