The Wodaabe (Fula: Wo?aa?e), also known as the Mbororo or Bororo, are a small subgroup of the Fulani ethnic group. They are traditionally nomadic cattle-herders and traders in the Sahel, with migrations stretching from southern Niger, through northern Nigeria, northeastern Cameroon, southwestern Chad, and the western region of the Central African Republic.The number of Wodaabe was estimated in 2001 to be 100,000.They are known for their elaborate attire and rich cultural ceremonies.
The Wodaabe speak the Fula language and don’t use a written language.In the Fula language, wo?a means “taboo”, and Wo?aa?e means “people of the taboo”. “Wodaabe” is an Anglicisation of Wo?aa?e. This is sometimes translated as “those who respect taboos”, a reference to the Wodaabe isolation from broader Fulbe culture, and their contention that they retain “older” traditions than their Fulbe neighbors. In contrast, other Fulbe as well as other ethnic groups sometimes refer to the Wodaabe as “Mbororo”, a sometimes pejorative name, translated into English as “Cattle Fulani”, and meaning “those who dwell in cattle camps”] By the 17th century, the Fula people across West Africa were among the first ethnic groups to embrace Islam, were often leaders of those forces which spread Islam, and have been traditionally proud of the urban, literate, and pious life with which this has been related. Both Wodaabe and other Fulbe see in the Wodaabe the echoes of an earlier pastoralist way of life, of which the Wodaabe are proud and of which urban Fulbe are sometimes critical.
The Wodaabe culture is one of the 186 cultures of the standard cross-cultural sample used by anthropologists to compare cultural traits.