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 3)

Waffa turuyaη, Waffa braiding, part 3
The foundations has been laid, what follows is the finishing off of the work of art. Two layers of braids are needed to cover the Comal completely. The first layer is used to keep the Comal in place. The second layer serves to hide the Comal from view. Although Koran verses are used in the amulet, the Marabous claim that the Koran forbids the use of the Comal in braiding and that the Comal will transform into a snake that will kill the wearer. The true reason, according to Djamo, is that the cloth takes op moistures during the ritual washing. She complains women are less interested in the old fashion and customs, and that, therefore, she has to adapt herself to the modern hair styles. This part of the video shows, as an interlude, some domestic activities of the Wogo women. The finishing touch of braiding consist of making two fine thin braids to which decorations can be attached. As decorations coins of former times are used, which are thoroughly cleaned and polished. Each type of coins has its own significance and value. Djamo leaves the attachment of the coins to a younger women, an old apprentice, as Djamo doesn't see that well anymore. At the end, the woman with newly braided hair dresses herself with a traditional garments and she performs a dance. 

Background information
This video is the third 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 third part takes almost ten minutes. 

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