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Festival of the Nomads – Cure Salée

One of the most important festivals in West Africa is celebration Cure Salée (Salt Cure). It’s held annually and each Nomad ethnic group has its own celebration. The biggest celebration you can see at Wodaabé (Bororo) tribe, held in September around small town In-Gall, in North-east Niger. The festival takes about a week, but two days are major. The exact date is not known, it’s changing every year and it’s announced approximately one month before in depending on rains strength.

Wodaabé tribe is part of z gibber family called Fulani. Fulani were the originally Nomads and herdsmen, but when they migrated from Upper Nile area to West Africa, many of them converted to Islam and settled down. The rest of them remained Nomads and herdsmen are called Wodaabé. In fact, Wodaabé called themselves ‘people of the taboos’, with is connected to their traditional Fulani law, moral restrictions, honesty and fairness. Some of them are called Bororo which is linked to their live with cattle.

Wodaabé men have often women-like elegant faces. They believe they are very attractive. The beauty is very important for them. The most important for the parents is to have pretty child. In some cases a man who is not so pretty has to share his wife with another more beautiful man, so the probability a pretty child is born is higher. Wodaabé women are indeed care about their beauty and surprisingly they have sexual freedom before the marriage.

During the year Wodaabé people are spread around almost all West African fields. Because their living is dependent on cattle, they bring the herds once a year to In-Gallu area, which is rich to the salt and healthy. The area is mostly visited after the raining season when there is enough to eat for the cattle. That’s the right time for Cure Salée celebration. The festival is a big social and cultural event. The old friends can meet, men are searching for their wives, people are chatting about the news.

Wodaabé join the Cure Salée celebration with their own festival Gerewol called after their traditional dance. The right time to attract woman is a beauty contest. The main event is Yaake dance. Men are dancing showing their beauty, charisma, elegance and charm. Preparation is tough. Men are decorating themselves in front of a small mirror for long hours. The face make-up must be perfect. They are carefully selecting bracelets and necklaces. When they are ready, the dance can start. It’s a quite strange and different dance we are get used to. Men are dancing in a row, wobbling, rolling eyes and showing the teeth. Before the dance they usually take a stimulant drink, so they can dance for hours. It’s not rare to see men dancing the whole night. Some of them are in ecstasy and need help from the others. Men beauty is scored according to their dance. Women are watching carefully and quietly selection their husbands. If the merry offer is accepted by man, he has to give a calabash of milk to her parents. If they accept it, he has to pay with three cows for the wedding celebration.


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