The Fulani herdsmen of Niger live scattered throughout the country, and they are nomads. In?
The Fulani herdsmen of Niger live scattered throughout the country, and they are nomads. In recent years, some of the Fulani, or Peul people, have settled down, but most of them remain wanderers, moving about the country according to the seasons, and retaining their traditional rituals. Young men reaching puberty take part in dangerous initiation rites, and become shepherds.
SYNOPSIS: The Fulani herdsmen hold an annual festival before they take their sheep to the north of the country. Madame Kountche, wife of Niger's President Seyni Kountche, was among the officials who attended this year's ceremony. The herdsmen take their own sheep and sometimes those belonging to settled farmers in southern Niger, to the pastures which spring up during the rainy season.
These benign ceremonies that seek to encourage fertility and prosperity are approved by Niger's government. But the Fulani perform other, more dangerous rituals.
Fulani youths qualify for manhood if they can tolerate flagellation without showing pain. The lashing of the whip can become frenzied, producing smarting weals, and sometimes wrong. Deaths can occur, and for this reason the Government has attempted to end the custom.
The youths who endure the ordeal pass into manhood, and assume their traditional role as nomadic herdsmen.