FunTimes Celebrates Niger’s Independence DayAug 03, 2020 09:13AM ● By Oga Africa
Today is Niger’s Independence Day! On this day, August 3rd of 1960, Niger declared colonial independence from France. This West African country is often overlooked. However, it contains colorful cultures, diversity, natural resources and an influential fashion presence. Let’s take a look inside Niger’s uniqueness.
The name of the country was inspired by the Niger River, which is a body of water that can be found on the southeastern part of the country. It is bordered by Algeria, Libya, Benin, Chad, Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso.
Niger has been producing African artists since the beginning of time. Intriguing drawings of herds and cattle were found on rocks in the AÏr Mountains, an ancient Nigerien dwelling place that dates back to about 3,500 to 2,500 BCE.
The remains of a herbivorous, 30 foot tall dinosaur was discovered in Niger, which was believed to have lived about 135 million years ago. The site where it was found is called ‘Jobaria,’ named by the Tuareg tribe after a ‘mysterious creature’ named the Jobar who previously inhabited the place, which scientists would later find out to be a dinosaur. In 1997, a Tuareg man brought an archaeologist to Jobaria, showing him the bones of the Jobar. Scientists posthumously named the creature Nigersaurus. This was not the only dinosaur found in Niger, as many existed in the country and other parts of the continent.
The predominant ethnic groups in Niger are the Hausa, Zarma/Songhai and Tuareg. Other ethnic groups include the Fulani/Peuhl, Kanuri, Tubu, Gurma, Arab and more. Although it is ranked as one of the most poverty stricken countries in the world, Niger has some of the globe’s largest uranium deposits. The country also has oil reserves, coal, petroleum, tin, ore, gypsum and salt, among others.
The Wodaabe tribe, a nomadic sub-ethnic group of the Fulani, are known for the Gerewol, a courting competiton that spans over the course of a week each year. In this competition, the males compete for a female suitor. The males dress up, paint their faces, dance the ‘Yaake’ dance, and show their teeth and the whites of their eyes for hours in the heat. They also jump in the air and sing to display their strength.
The Wodaabe, whose tribe stretches to other countries like Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, are renowned for their aesthetics, as beauty is a big part of their culture. The Wodaabe women of Niger design elaborate hairstyles and don regal tribal marks. Their styles have inspired international celebrities like Beyonce and more. Check out these looks!
(Young Wodaabe lady)
Nigerien cuisine is delicious and diverse. Their food has been influenced by Arab and French culture, due to the Arab Slave Trade in Niger and French colonial occupation in the country. Some of their dishes include Shinkafa (a pounded rice dish served with vegetable and meat stew,) jollof rice, millet, beef or mutton brochette, palm nut soup, salaat (salad,) Ogbono (known as bush mango,) tattabara (flame grilled pigeon,) dodo (fried plantain,) and kilishi (beef or goat jerky.)
Niger’s rich culture illustrates how Africans told their own stories before colonial writing and defies western ideas of masculinity. Today, due to inequality, many in the country suffer from food insecurity and poverty based issues. Celebrate Niger by donating to a Niger based relief program like Save the Children. Thanks for celebrating with us!