As a small subgroup of the Fulani ethnic group, the Wodaabe traditionally known as the Bororo are scattered across the sub-Saharan Sahelian steppe in Niger, West Africa. Insulated from modern society, they have maintained their own ancient way of life for thousands of years. In spite of extremely severe living conditions, they still have optimistic spirit thanks to traditional and cultural activities. Visiting Niger and the Bororo, tourists can not forget their male beauty contest for the title of “Mr. Sahara”.
The unique tribal pageant is held annually to mark the end of the rainy season. On this occasion, men participate in charm, beauty, and dance competitions judged by young women. When the dusk has come, it’s time for the big competition to take place in Niger. All contestants are excited to prepare for their own costumes and accessories such as rings and necklaces. Their faces are carefully being made up by themselves. Meanwhile, others start the fire, line in a circle, sing and dance during the contest. The male beauty ideal of the Wodaabe focuses on tallness, whiteness of their teeth, and the brightness of their eyes. It is traditional that the winner is permitted to get married with one of the judges.
Men in the Wodaabe are given compact mirrors at birth
Men are eager to make up themselves with the hope of becoming “Mr. Sahara”
When they were small, their mothers and sisters helped them clean their teeth and pulled their limbs to make them long and slim
Men are in line waiting for the pageant which is traditionally judged by young women
The winner has right to marry one of the judges
Losers in the contest have several wives and the women in Niger have more than one husband
The winner is chosen based on the whiteness of their teeth and brightness of their eyes
The male beauty contest is a unique custom in the remote country Niger
The men of the sweltering desert nation of Niger