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Cawyaŋ Zarma Sanni

Group of musicians in the street of Niamey, Niger, playing traditional instruments

Zarma culture: traditions

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Zarma - Songhay culture: Waffa braiding (part 1)

(At DailyMotion with 30 seconds commercial at start)

Waffa turuyaη, Waffa braiding, part 1 (other episodes)
Hair style is one way to distinguish oneself from other, just like clothing and customs. The style of hair braiding is an important aspect of the identity of the Wogo. Djamo is a traditional braider of hair and in this episode she does shopping for her work on the local market. Thereafter, she takes the boat to her village Sawani and sails the Niger river. The market is the main meeting and trading place and the river is an essential transport route; this becomes very clear while looking the video.

More traditions
Marcanda, still from video
Hippo hunt, still from video
Hippo hunt
Rain dance, still from video
Rain dance
Waffa braiding, still from video
Waffa braiding
Riddle, photo of playing children
Background information
This video is the first part of a film by Ibrahim Kalla Labo 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 first part takes eight minutes.
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.
More information
[1] Regina Paul. About Hair Braiding. ehow.com.
[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.
Fisherman: photo of fisherman throughing out his net. The Wogo is an ethnic group, that settle in the area between Ayourou 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].
Waffa braiding, all three episodes
  Waffa braiding, part 1
Part 1
Waffa braiding, part 2
Part 2
Waffa braiding, part 3
Part 3

More culture topics
Old dance 1a
Traditional dance
Old dance 1b
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Popular music
Wass Wong
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Rain dance
Building a thatched hut
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Last updated: 20 Januari, 2016