Women as leaders: a historical appraisal of women efforts in conflict prevention and resolution in the Aghem Federation of Chiefdoms, Cameroon
The federation of Aghem chiefdoms was established in ca. 1800 with control over land reserved for men who dominated political power in the setup; though women were greater exploiters of the land for crop farming. In the early 20th century, the federation witnessed an incursion of Fulani graziers who occupied vast lands for grazing; a decision that was taken by the area’s leadership with no due consultation of the women who were the major land users. By the middle of the century, continuous incompatible land use strategies resulted to crop damages which provoked direct public intervention of women in land matters. This paper examined the historical bases of direct women intervention under women leadership in land related issues as provoked by the farmer-grazier conflict. It also focused on the efforts made by women in preventing the recurrence of conflicts and the challenges they face. The paper sustained that faced with inconsistency in the prevention and management of the farmer-grazier conflicts by the male dominated political hierarchy, a feminine leadership emerged to prevent and manage the farmer-grazier conflict through pacific and forceful means. It posits that the persistent pain felt by women justified direct women involvement in farmer-grazier conflict prevention and resolution under women leadership. The paper upheld that the inability of women leadership to attain greater results in the farmer-grazier conflict prevention and management is predominantly a result of male domination and women occupation of passive positions in the different land tenure mechanisms in the area.
Keywords: conflicts, domination, leadership, farmer-grazier, authority