Guerewol – A courtship ritual

Guerewol – A courtship ritual

“In-gali, in Niger, is a festival town. At the end of the rainy season, different nomadic peoples (including the Tuaregs) gather there for the “Cure salée”, an important salt market that lasts several weeks. On this occasion, the Woodabe hold the Guerewol, a courtship ritual where men try to woo a jury of young women.
To impress the jury, men will have to show off their best assets and for the Woodabe, that means being tall, having white eyes and teeth and knowing how to bust a move in the traditional song and line-dancing: the yaake. On the day of the performance, men wear elaborate headpieces complete with feathers to make themselves look taller.
Their faces will be painted with red, yellow or white and their lips and eyes contoured in black to emphasize the eyes and teeth Then, the yaake will begin. The yaake is as important as the dress and make-up: it will show how the men can carry themselves, a way to judge of their elegance. During the dance, the contestants will also heavily roll their eyes and show their teeth in the hope that they will be noticed.
The ultimate winner is designated by three women chosen by the elders and the lucky guy has his pick of a love partner but other women also have their pick. The rest of the week-long festival is dedicated to clan meetings, marriage negotiations, and other social events.” (flockeo.com/en/guerewol-niger/)

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