Tiny bush encampment of Tagaye near Abalak
Each fall, after the rainy season, the nomadic Wodaabe cattle herders leave the bush to attend an annual gathering. This is the one event of the year where all herders are in one place and can truly enjoy each other’s company, catching up with old friends and making new ones. There is also the prospect of finding a spouse. Traditionally, the men are chosen by women in a dance called Geerwol. The men don special costumes and paint their faces to show off their beauty. Desirable traits are white teeth, a long, straight nose, high forehead, and white eyes. Nowadays, the winner of Geerwol takes home gifts such as money, sheep, and clothes, and if he is lucky, finds a girlfriend or wife.
– Crystal Pilon ©2008
Peace Corps Volunteer, Niger 2008-09
Niger/Republique du Niger
In western Africa; predominately desert plains and sand dunes; flat to rolling plains in south; hills in north; 1.267M km2 (slightly < 2 X TX ), 11% arable.
Capital Niamey (pop est. .04M)
Population Pop 16.5M (100/km2)
Life expectancy 53 years
Lang(s) French (official), Hausa, Djerma
Religions Muslim 80%, other (includes indigenous beliefs and Christian) 20%
Ethnic Groups Haoussa 55%, Djerma Sonrai 21%, Tuareg 9%, Peuhl 8.5%, Kanouri Manga 5%, other 1%
PCVs 1962-2011; English language, agriculture, environment, community development, youth education, health, HIV/AIDS awareness. service suspended January, 2011 (Volunteers in country: 0; total to date: 3,130)
Nat’l holiday Republic Day, 18 December (1958)