Maradi 2012

Tillabéri 2010

Tahoua 2009

Dosso 2008

Agadez 2007

Zinder 1986


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DailyMotion Zarma culture clips

Zarma - Songhay culture:  Waffa braiding (part 2)

Waffa turuyaη, Waffa braiding, part 2
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.

Background information
This video is the second part of a film by Ibrahim Labo Kalla 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. 

Waffa braiding (part 1 to 3)

Turuyaŋ, part 1

Turuyaŋ, part 2

Turuyaŋ, part 3


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.  .

Fisherman: photo of fisherman throughing out his net.

The Wogo is an ethnic group, that settle in the area between Ayerou 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].

More information
Regina Paul. About Hair Braiding.
[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.




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Last updated: 06 maart 2012