|Gerewol (photo - Dan Lundberg)|
|Guérewol (photo - Dan Lundberg)|
EligibilityWodaabe women, like their men, lean and tall; biceps, triceps, nice legs and six pack abs are equally important. The ideal man’s facial features should be symmetrical, his eyes large and round, his nose fine and long and his teeth white and even. (Surgery is usually not a option as the Wodaabe women don’t have much of a like for anything plastic). The dude must also have a sense of style that appeals to the women and last but not the least, his stamina should be beyond comparison. The enthusiastic men are judged based on these criteria in the Gerewol festival; the lucky man that meets all these criteria walks away with the charm of three lovely ladies.
The Talent RoundWith “Grace” being an important criterion for the contest, the participants must be good at shaking their legs too. Yaake - the principal competitive dance round is intended to allow the contestants to exhibit their overall physical presence, their poise and sense of rhythm, and the particular beauty of their facial features. As a spectacle, it is a cross between opera, ballet and a drag show, performed without props in the middle of a semi-desert.
Behind the Scenes
|Guérewol festival (photo - Dan Lundberg)|
With the hair and make up done, the participants tie amulet bags, necklaces and crosses around their necks, then dress in tunics that hang to their ankles. They wear white turbans with ostrich feathers on their heads. The overall attire may seem traditional, but Woodabe women never fail to appreciate a little creativity or fusion. So don’t be surprised if you notice zips in their embroidery, or men wearing plastic watches on their necklaces. Before lining up for a Yaake, the young men drink a cocktail containing a psychoactive bark that assists them in putting on their best face, making their most elegant moves, and staying on their feet all night.
The JuryWhile they wear less make-up than the boys, Wodaabe girls adorn themselves with equal care. They wear beaded necklaces and amulet bags around their neck and colored bracelets on their wrists, large hoops of silver or gold in their ears. The traditionalists have thick brass bangles around their ankles, intended to give them a “cow-like” step — a prized virtue in their cattle culture.Devoid of any hypocrisy, Guérewol is a fun filled festival which allows young men and women to mingle, flirt and possibly find a partner. There is no pretence of scouting for talent or any room for moral policing.