Their spread across Sub-Saharan Africa contributed to their more than 15 lineage groups. Membership of these groups is based on blood-lines and traveling together.
With an estimated 160, 000 and 200, 000 people splitting amongst all the groups, the Wodaabe lineage comes together and hold their ceremonial dances, the Geerewol, Worso, and Yakke.
Known for their elaborate attire and rich cultural ceremonies, they believe in a deity and various spirits that live mostly on trees and wells. And, despite their beliefs in ‘lesser-known gods’, the Wodaabe are known to have a significant amount of knowledge in Islam and are reported to invoke the name of Allah in times of death or difficulty.
The Wife Stealing festival
This festival makes up a few unconventional yet interesting practices of the Wodaabe tribe. Known as the Yakke, the s*xually liberated males come together with colorful paintings on their faces to attract their bride.
They paint their faces with red clay, apply thick black eyeliner to highlight the whites of their eyes and matching lipstick to show off their teeth.
In this festival, the status of a man is cast in stone. After spending as much as six hours preparing themselves for the big moment, they dance in circles shoulder to shoulder to attract applause from an all-female judge.
The female judges get to choose a winner who has the right to pick any woman from his tribe for marriage.
A woman has the liberty to choose a man even while she is married to one. Usually, in the cultural setup of the Wodaabe, men have little or no say in the areas of s*x and marital union.
Parents pick the first husband while the women pick the men of their choice at the Gerewol. The practice commonly referred to as ‘Sigisbesim.’
Marriage and childbearing
After a bride becomes pregnant for her husband, it is forbidden for her husband to see her in that state. She goes to her mother and delivers the baby who is called ‘boofeydo’, which literally means ‘someone who has committed an error’.
During this period, every form of contact between husband and wife is prohibited until after two or three years later. The husband only has access to his wife when her mother has secured all the items that are necessary for her to mov
The role of women
The fact that beauty is held in high regard makes it significantly possible for a woman to sleep with several s*x partners who are not her husband. If a woman marries an unattractive man, her husband allows her the right to sleep with an attractive man to produce better-looking babies.