The Ful’Fulde Wodaabe

Transmission date: July 1988

The Ful’fulde Wodaabe are among the last true nomads on earth.

They follow their herds of cattle across some of the harshest landscapes in Africa, the drought-ravaged Sahel, south of the Sahara. Drought has always been a factor in Wodaabe life, and recent droughts have been particularly severe but they say their lives are shaped by joy, as well as hardship.

The Wodaabe have an obsession with beauty—notably male beauty. The men wear elaborate make-up and dress during dances.

The Yake dance is a magical dance in which men seek to make contact with special powers which make them irresistible to women (first extract).

The second and third extracts demonstrate the different activities performed by men and women: a male cattle herder plays a bamboo flute while he tends the animals; women sing as they pound grain.

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