Christmas Day, 1977, was marked with celebrations of a very special kind in the town of Kirtachi in the Southern Niger.
Christmas Day, 1977, was marked with celebrations of a very special kind in the town of Kirtachi in the Southern Niger. They were holding a Coronation. The Military Government of Niger has seen that the old tradition of the country, which is predominantly Moslem, are kept alive. And in Kirtachi on December the 25th, government officials and tribal leaders gathered together for a ceremony little changed over the centuries. Though it now has added political significance.
SYNOPSIS: The new chief Issoufou Moumouni Dioffo was chosen by a democratic vote conducted by Kirtachi's electoral college. He took the winning numbers of 14 out of the total 21 votes cast. The election was held after the sudden death of his predecessor and the decision after approval by the government, was confirmed by ministeral decree.
Before the ceremony began, the Prefect of the Department of Niamey, the capital, Captain Amadou Seyni Maiga reminded the new chief that in exercising his authority over the villagers he was also the 'eyes, ears and interpreter of the administration'. He will fulfil both his traditional role as chief, and one as part of Niger's modern political system.
But after the speeches, it was time for timeless tradition to take over.
The robes of offices are placed on to the head and shoulders of the new chief.
This is a ceremony if age-old dignity. Scenes like this were enacted in the Hausa townships and, before that the Songhai empire, long before the arrival of European colonists.
Now under Lieutenant Colonel Seyni Kountche's Military Government, the rites have gained, rather than diminished in importance. Chief Dioffo must combine the dignity and knowledge of an old chief with the sophistication of modern politician. One of his jobs, in coming months will be administration of development programmes in the area.