In the Sahel desert of Niger in West Africa, the nomadic people of the Wodaabe tribe spend months searching out pastures to feed and water their herds. When the rains are good, an extraordinary beauty contest takes place, called the Gerewol, where it's the men on display.
The Gerewol is the biggest Nomadic celebration in West Africa, and marks the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the tribes' journey to their dry season pastures. During this week-long celebration, the male suitors perform dances in an attempt to impress marriageable women and their families; they barter over dowry and compete in various activities, including camel races among suitors.
There are two dances, the Yaake, during which the young men dance and sing for the attention of the women, and the Gerewol, where the men are judged purely on their physical beauty. The men will continue to dance for a seven-day period in the blistering Saharan sun to prove their stamina and attractiveness to the women, who judge the contest.
This was a biblical journey: 1,000 nomads, 2,000 camels, donkeys, cattle, sheep and goats, 110 degree heat and 4 western women, sleeping under the Milky Way listening to the cacophony of sounds from the herds at night.
We stepped back in time. What a life we were privileged to witness…
© Terri Gold World Imagery