The Wodaabe wife stealing festival in Niger
Every year the Wodaabe men of Niger gather to put on makeup and steal each other’s wives. All for the good of the tribe, apparently.
The Wodaabe tribe of Niger have a very clear idea of what is attractive in a man. A firm straight nose. White teeth. And equally bright whites of the eye.
Every year the tribe’s most attractive men gather to dance and peacock at the Guérewol festival in In-Gall.
The festival sees the meeting of several nomadic tribes.
The men spend up to six hours getting ready.
They paint their faces and use eyeliner to make their eyes look whiter and lipstick to make their teeth look brighter.
Then they dance, darting their wide-opened eyes from side-to-side and smiling as broadly as they can.
If they can do both at the same time, all the better.
The aim is to convince the wives of other men that they’d be better off with them.
The National Geographic video above gives an excellent overview of the festival and its traditions.
But for a deeper dive, we recommend checking out Sandrine Loncke’s award-winning video ‘Dancing with the Wodaabe.’
For some reason, the video has age-control restrictions, so we can’t embed it here. But if you follow the link below you can watch it on YouTube.
Sandrine spent ten years researching and making the film.
More importantly, she gets the Wodaabe to explain the festival in their own words.
- Watch Sandrine Loncke’s ‘Dancing with the Wodaabe‘ video on YouTube
Main image: Wodaabe men waiting to dance at the Guérewol Festival in Niger (© Shutterstock)