‘Who are the Wodaabe?’

The Wodaabe are one of the most well known sub-groups of the Fula ethnic group. They’re nomadic herdsmen who still practice cultural rituals that other Fulani groups have left and for this they were given the name ‘Wodaabe’ which in the Fulfulde language means ‘people of the taboo’. They’re known also by other Fulani groups as 'Bororo’ which is a sometimes pejorative name with various possible meanings including 'those who dress in tatters’ and 'those who live in cattle camps’. The world really came to know of the Fulani through a Werner Herzog film named 'Wodaabe: Herdsmen of the Sun’, which is a documentary film made in Niger in 1989. This film follows the Wodaabe through their daily life and asks them for their perspective and history; and in the latter half documents the well known Wodaabe marriage ritual. This ritual is know as 'Guerewol’ and is a beauty competition done by the men to win a wife or add to his wives. This is an annual thing, and only happens when various Wodaabe bands come together before they disperse south during the dry season. Guerewol lasts for up to a week and involves an elaborate dancing ceremony in which the men try to impress the women; this is known as 'Yaake’. This custom is unique to the Wodaabe, being that most Fula have now become urbanized and more adherent to orthodox Sunni Islam. The Wodaabe themselves are Muslims, but they are not orthodox like other Fula. Outside of the Guerewol festival most Fulani actually dress in a similar fashion to that of their Tuareg neighbors, of which they’re known to live amongst and have a close relationship with. In fact the largest gathering site for the Wodaabe, known as In-Gall, is a place where both the Wodaabe and the Tuareg coexist symbiotically. Not only are they distinct in their practices from other Fula; but they’re also sexually liberal in regards to women. An unmarried girl may have sex outside of marriage, there is no taboo on this. When a Wodaabe couple is married, they’re still not allowed to live together. The woman must save up all the items she will need for their home and then she can live with her husband, which is an interesting practice. The Wodaabe are one of the last examples of the older Fula culture, and are a reminder of how being different is something beautiful.

Looking to learn your language? (UPDATED!!)

The following are good  free online language  resources for learning different languages spoken in West Africa. Feel free to add on to the list if you know of another resource to help people.


Yorùbá Yé Mi

UPenn Yoruba Vocabulary

I Love Languages- Yoruba

My Languages- Yoruba

University of Georgia- Yoruba


Yoruba- Basic Course/ Tapes


Rapport Hausa Course

Headstart Hausa Course

UCLA Hausa Resources

Byki Hausa Vocabulary List

UPenn Hausa Vocabulary

Boston University Hausa Resources

I Love Languages- Hausa

Hausa Tapes

Hausa- Basic Course


UCLA Wolof Resources

UPenn Wolof Vocabulary

Boston University Wolof Resources

LAAF Wolof Lessons

Indiana University Wolof Folktales and Songs

Indiana University Wolof Lessons


UPenn Twi Vocabulary

Akan Pronunciation Game (helps you learn the tones)

Some Vocabulary 

Twi Tapes

Peace Corps Twi

Indiana University Twi Folktales and Songs

Indiana University Twi Lessons


UPenn Igbo Vocabulary

Igbo Net

Some Igbo Vocabulary 

I Love Languages- Igbo

Igbo- Basic Course


LAAF Mandinka lessons


LAAF Bambara lessons

Peace Corps Bambara

Indiana University Bambara Lessons

Indiana University Folktales and Songs in Bambara


LAAF Mooré lessons

Mooré Tapes

Mooré Basic Course

Fula(ni)/ Pulaar

Fula- Basic Course


Some Vocabulary 

Ewe Greetings and Basics


University of California Bade


University of California Bole


University of California Duwai


University of California Karekare


University of California Maka


University of California Ngamo


University of California Ngizim


University of California Miya

I added some additional websites as well as languages. Also I would like to state that is in no way meant to be a comprehensive list of all of the languages of west Africa. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of languages and I cannot find resources for them all. I will keep adding to this list.

Wodaabe woman

 The Wodaabe are a nomadic, cattle-herding subgroup of the Fulani ethnic group which are spread across most of western Africa. They are known for their sexual liberation, unwed girls may have sex whenever and with whomever they wish.

 Their marriage rituals are world famous, in which the young Wodaabe men put on elaborate make-up and other adornments and carry out the Yaake, which are dances and songs they perform to impress the onlooking ladies.