In the Wodaabe tribe of Niger in West Africa, men are known to steal each other’s wives. The Wodaabe’s first marriage is arranged by their parents in infancy and must be between cousins of the same lineage.
The males in the tribe are regarded as very vain because they believe that they are the most handsome set of men and they always carry mirrors.
In the Wodaabe tribe, people are given in marriage in infancy and the women can have as many s$xual partners as they desire before marriage.
In the tribe, marriage is always contracted in infancy, and the women can have as many s$xual partners as they desire before marriage. However, the tribe holds an annual festival, called the Gerewol where Wodaabe men wear elaborate makeup and costumes and dance to impress the women – and hopefully steal a new wife.
The culture believes that beauty can be judged by the whiteness of the eye, the firm straight bridge of the nose, and white teeth.
Therefore, the make-up done is to accentuate these features. Before the festival begins, it takes the men six hours to prepare and get ready so they can dance and show themselves off.
They paint their faces with red clay, use eyeliners to make their eyes appear whiter, and wear a shade of lipstick that will make their teeth appear whiter. They also wear white ostrich feathers in their hair making them appear taller.
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.
The tribe is a polygamous one hence the wife stealing is widely accepted. In spite of this, some men do not wish their wives to be stolen, and so do not allow them to participate in the festival.
If the new couple is able to steal away undetected (especially from a current husband who may not want to part with his wife), then they become socially recognized. These subsequent marriages are called love marriages.