logo of woman with pounder Flag of United Kingdom Nederlandse vlag      

Cawyaŋ Zarma Sanni

Group of musicians in the street of Niamey, Niger, playing traditional instruments

Zarma culture: traditions

other topics print page

Zarma - Songhay culture: Waffa braiding (part 2)

(At DailyMotion with 30 seconds commercial at start)

Waffa turuyaη, Waffa braiding, part 2 (other episodes)
Hair braiding starts with combing and washing of the hair. After combing, Djamo washed the hair with a sticky liquid. This liquid is made of water and leafs and roots of a plant named ganda foy or sauce of the earth. Thereafter, she removes this sticky liquid with a washing soda solution. Djamo finishes the pre-treatment with a massage of the hair with savon biyo (black soap). While the hair gets the time to dry, the camera shows us how the women of the village take care of the maintenance of the walls that due to weathering and erosion need a fresh layer of mud. Back to braiding, the Comal (Tchomal) is considered as the architectural pillar of the Waffa hair style. The Comal is made of piece of cloth and is folded in the presence of the customer. The Comal is placed in the middle on the head. Sometimes the hairdresser places amulets under the Comal, which contain Koran verses. Djamo uses butter of cows to make the hairs supple and charcoal powder to prevent slipping of the fingers during braiding. Of course, Djamo complains the the youngsters do braid their hair, but they do not know how to really braid the Waffa hair style.

More traditions
Marcanda, still from video
Hippo hunt, still from video
Hippo hunt
Rain dance, still from video
Rain dance
Waffa braiding, still from video
Waffa braiding
Riddle, photo of playing children
Background information
This video is the second part of a film by Ibrahim Kalla Labo titled "La tresse Waffa" and which was made in 2006 by order of the ´Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision du Niger´. The two other parts can be viewed as well. The film has been released as part of the series 'Alter metier' and is shot in Niger. The length of the original film is 25 minutes and the film has been broadcasted in October 2006 by RTBF 3. Comments and subtitles are in French. However, the people in the movie speak Songhay-Kaado en Zarma. This second part takes eight and a half minute.
About the film
This film shows in its own peculiar way that hairdressing is not only meant to make someone beautiful, or at least immaculately dressed, but also that hairdressing is an integral part of the culture of a people [1]. We see picture of the market and the river, both an essential part of the Zarma/Songhay civilisation. At the same time, we learn that de Zarma/ Songhay-Kaado language is spoken by several distinguishable ethnic groups. We get to see the role of the women in the maintenance of the house. The mud walls weather and erode by the extreme weather in the Sahelian zone, and the people have to regularly skim or daub the wall with a fresh layer of mud. But, above all, we obtain insight into the art and rituals of hair braiding, the Waffa braiding to be precise.
More information
[1] Regina Paul. About Hair Braiding. ehow.com.
[2] Jean-Paul Olivier de Sardan (1978) Marriage among the Wogo.. In: David Seddon (ed.), Relations of production. Marxist approaches to economic anthropology. Frank Cass and Company Limited, Oxon, pp. 357-388.
Fisherman: photo of fisherman throughing out his net. The Wogo is an ethnic group, that settle in the area between Ayourou en Tillabéri (Niger) around 1800. They often live on the isles in the Niger river [2, p.388]. They speak Songhay-Kaado, just like the other ethnic groups that live in this area. This Songhay-dialect is almost similar to Zarma and also they culture of the Wogo is very alike to that of the Zarma [2, p.360].
Waffa braiding, all three episodes
  Waffa braiding, part 1
Part 1
Waffa braiding, part 2
Part 2
Waffa braiding, part 3
Part 3

More culture topics
Old dance 1a
Traditional dance
Old dance 1b
Traditional music
Moussa Poussi
Popular music
Wass Wong
Hip hop
Rain dance
Building a thatched hut
slide shows
  Front of book Stolloer and Olkes, In Sorcery's shadows
arrow up


Site Search Site Search
Dictionary Zarma - English
Zarma grammar book
Zarma pronunciation guide


        disclaimer contact        
      Dico Fraters, the Netherlands © 2004-2016      
Last updated: 20 Januari, 2016