Women Empowerment: Mbororo Women in Leadership Inadequate, destruction of Livelihood in conflict, MBOSCUDA concerned
By Shey Godbless
The Women leadership of the Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA) has continued to express discontent with the inadequacies surrounding their presence in decision making institutions in the North West and Cameroon in general and the continuous destruction of the livelihood of Mbororos like cattle in the ongoing armed conflict in the region.
Speaking to www.hilltopvoices.com in an exclusive interview, Madam Ali Ali Shatu the coordinator of the association declared that the Mbororo woman was still being marginalised by society on a daily basis on a varied number of ways. She regretted that their role is relegated only to domestic chores and taking care of the family without giving them equal opportunities like other non-Mbororo women despite the efforts they are making.
Visibly dissatisfied, Ali Ali Shatu, insinuated that there are no intentional efforts by those in authority to priorities the concerns of the Mbororos thus giving room for ruthless repression against them in all spheres of life.
Describing the presence of Mbororo women in leadership positions like Mayors, Parliamentarians as one of their fundamental challenges, Shatu noted with visible discomfort that there was no Mbororo woman as Mayor or Parliamentarian in the entire North West with 34 councils and 20 parliamentarians.
“The most important is the political one because that is where decisions are made, that is where policies are made that influence our lives. But we are not there to make our own contributions which for us is a problem” she said adding. “We have to be there in other to participate in taking decisions that concern us and our future. We have to be there in other to participate in implementing such decisions. We have to be part of the people who came out with the decisions” Madam Ali Aii Shatu observed.
While questioning how many mayors were Mbororo Women, She noted that at the best they were only given deputy positions in councils and other political positions.
“We may have deputies, but to have a mayor, I think we don’t have. Parliamentarians we don’t have, and these are the people who take decisions. Most of our people who are in the political platform are being influenced by the majority.” she added.
Mbororos according to her are still being considered as foreigners in almost all the areas where they had settled thus making their women feel inferior amongst others. Their nomadic nature had played negatively on their lives and society forgets that everybody who is now settled at their present sites had migrated from somewhere, thus no need for the marginalization of the Mbororos with the multiplier effect on the Mbororo woman as she is deprived of land ownership.
“Firstly the Mbororo people depend only on pasture for their livelihood. They don’t have any other activity. They were nomads who were constantly moving from one place to another. Now they are now semi settled since they still move their animals out for transhumance activities in the dry season. They will settle in a place and live for other areas with their cows. When they come back, they will meet some other group of people already settled on the land they left thus depriving them of that land. At that juncture, they are not recognized as the people who were there first”, she went on.
The management of the sources of livelihood and their way of life has become a weakness for the Mbororos.
“Also, being nomads they focused only on their livestock. They never thought education to be important. And they never considered securing land for themselves important. They also never thought diversifying their livelihood is important. Our livelihood is exposed in such a way that if you pass around a compound you will believe that the man of the house is wealthy. We have faced a lot of challenges especially with the present context in which we are finding ourselves. Their animals are being stolen, they are being killed. So many things have been happening because our livelihood is exposed. With that it is a problem. We are trying to encourage them to diversify to other sources of livelihood not only the
Cattle itself,” she added.
These two are just part of a continuation of the marginalization process they were going through on a daily basis. Madam Ali Ali Shatu added that they are also facing language and cultural barrier challenges.
“They may go to certain places where they are unable to express themselves. Our major problem now is our livelihood that is being destroyed.”
She summed up the marginalization of the Mbororo woman to three main areas:
First she is marginalized by the society Secondly she is marginalized by the community where she lives and Thirdly she is marginalized by the men or their parents who are mostly men.
Come to think of it, that any Mbororo woman who gives birth to a child out of wedlock is regarded as an outcast by her own people:
To give birth to a child out of wedlock is a taboo. Even that family will not have peace of mind in that particular environment. So many parents are trying to avoid that. When a child is a little bit mature they will send her to early marriage.
Mbororo women have been sent to marriages at an early age. My culture is playing on the people. They think that if you send a child to school it is like helping the child to assimilate other cultures and other bad influences that will help to spoil the child. Most of the Women go to marriage without knowing what it means and without knowing the people they are getting married to. So they go there and they find it difficult to cope. This has given birth to a high rate of divorce within our Mbororo communities.
The coordinator equally noted that their culture was equally dealing with them though it was gradually dying out.
“We have our culture. Though our culture have some limitations trying to prohibit us from certain things, we have been trying to educate our people to see the importance of certain things, but we still have a big challenge. Our culture has a code of conduct which is PULA. The code of conduct is gradually dying down because of acculturation which is a problem. PULA is a code of conduct that disciplines somebody.
You have to dress well, you have to speak politely, you have to respect your elders, you have to be descent. It is gradually shifting with modernization. Even though we have some negative cultural bearers that we are trying to address, but at the same time, some other cultures are trying to infiltrate our own culture and destroying the positive aspects of our culture,” she narrated.
While her organization which is the Mbororo Women’s Cultural and Development Association, MBOSCUDA has been doing much to curb these ills, much still has to be done. Evidence of their efforts are registered in the some areas of life:
"We have academic doctors who are Mbororo women, we have medical doctors who are Mbororo. In every field of life you can find us but at the political arena we are not represented. We are also looking at possibilities of diversifying and empowering the mbororo woman so that she should not only depend on the husband to sustain herself and her family. The gate way into anything in life is education. It has been a problem. They are thus crying for empowerment to better the lives of the Mbororo indigenous people Economically, socially, politically and culturally." She concluded