Bizarre? The Wodaabe Wife Stealing Festival

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The Wife Stealing Festival, also known as the Gerewol Festival is an annual courtship ritual competition among the semi-nomadic Wodaabe Fula tribe of Niger and Chad.
In preparation for the Gerewol festival, the men dress elaborately, wear colourful make-up and they also wear white ostrich feathers in their hair making them appear taller. It takes them about six hours to get ‘glammed up, and then they hold a beauty pageant of some sort. During the festival, men dress to impress the wives of other men.

The Wodaabe believes that beauty can be judged by the whiteness of the eye, the firm straight bridge of the nose, and white teeth.
Therefore, the makeup done is to accentuate these features.
During the festival, three of the tribe’s most beautiful women are chosen to judge as the men display through a dance, moving in circles.
Other women, already wives of other men, admire the men they most desire to choose as their second husband. If a man successfully steals a wife without being caught, the man automatically becomes her husband and the union is accepted.

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