On the 2007 ABIS expedition we frequently saw herds of Bororo cattle...

Cattle in Wodaabe/Fulbe/Fulani society have an interconnected symbolic, social and economic meaning. Cattle have multiple roles in Wodaabe society and cannot be reduced to a single meaning or purpose. First and foremost cattle provide people with milk and meat to sell at the market for millet. In addition all major life transitions, such as birth, marriage and death take place with the assistance of cattle. The Wodaabe distinguish the Bororo cattle from other breeds of cattle, identifying them as “true” cattle (na’i gonga). The Bororo cow is characterized by a special attachment to its owner, being extremely obedient and responding well to commands given by people, in addition to knowing their names. They get used to specific people handling them, refusing cooperating with strangers, such as in terms of milking and watering. Wodaabe see this attachment to the owner as serving practical purposes because, as they frequently emphasize, it is almost impossible to steal a Bororo cow. They run away from strangers, refusing cooperation. The Bororo cows are also characterized as fiercely independent and can in some situations be dangerous to people. Wodaade describe Bororo cattle as having djikku (character), which is the same term as used in relation to people. To have djikku is usually characterized negatively by Wodaabe in relation to people; as referring to loss of self-control. But the use of such a term in relation to cattle can be seen as placing them on the same level as people, conceptualizing them as animals with temper and independent personalities. (excerpts from "Birds of the Bush: Wodaabe Distinctions of Society and Nature" KRISTÍN LOFTSDÓTTIR University of Iceland)

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