Geerewol Celebrations

Geerewol Celebrations

Rainy season, late June to mid-September
Geerewol Celebrations are elaborate week-long festivities held by the Wodaabe people of Niger as a kind of male beauty contest. The festivities also serve the important purpose of allowing young men and women to meet prospective mates outside their circle of cousins.
There are two main dances to the celebrations, the yaake and the geerewol .
The yaake is the dance for demonstrating charm. The men paint their faces with pale yellow or red powder and borders of black kohl around their eyes; they also shave their hairline to heighten the forehead. They dance in a line, leaning forward on tiptoe to accentuate their height, and contorting their faces with rolling eyes, pursed lips, and inflated cheeks. Their charm and personality is judged based on these expressions.
The geerewol is held to select the most beautiful men. In this dance the men line up wearing beads on their bare chests and turbans adorned with ostrich feathers on their heads. For a couple of hours they chant and jump and stomp while selected young unmarried women kneel and scrutinize them. These women are the judges; eventually they walk toward the dancers and indicate their favorites by swinging their arms.
The Geerewol celebration ends at sunrise after an entire night of dancing when the host group presents the departing guests with roasted meat.
CONTACTS:
Niger Embassy
2204 R St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-483-4224; fax: 202-483-3169
www.nigerembassyusa.org
African Ceremonies Inc.
230 W. 41st St.
New York, NY 10036
fax: 207-794-7330
www.africanceremonies.com