Cultural identity is synonymous with ethnic identity. The population of Niger clearly defines its identity on the level of belonging to a certain ethnic group. Even if, for example, a pullo (singular of Fulbe) can no longer speak his mother tongue – the Fulfulde – and only understands rudimentarily, has grown up in the city, has never looked after a cattle, he still feels completely a member of this ethnic group and thus connected to the cattle. He is socialized with the demands of this culture, with the taboos, rules and duties. Hence its ethnicity is defined. It is true that inter-ethnic marriages are on the rise, but this is not approved by the ‘old people’ because the cultural self-image is different.
In rural areas, the cultural traditions and forms of expression still exist and are lived. The griots, which present the history and stories of a person, a group, a village, etc., are of particular importance. They are the cultural memory, the main keepers of oral knowledge. They also present their chants on ‘modern’ occasions, incorporate current issues and, as an outsider of society, can also freely criticize.
National festivals and special cultural events
According to physicscat, the moving holidays in Niger are:
- the feast of the end of Ramadan (Eid al Fitr) and the night of prayers in the last 10 nights of Ramadan (Laylat al Qadr),
- the Tabaski / Sheep Sacrifice Festival (Eid al Kabir), which takes place 70 days later,
- the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed (Mawlid / Mouloud),
- Muharram (Islamic New Year)
Fixed public holidays include:
- January 1st (New Year),
- April 24th (peace treaty with the Tuareg 1995).
- May 1st (Labor Day)
- August 3rd (Independence Day),
- December 18th (national holiday),
- December 25th (Christmas)
The “Festival de l’Air” in Iferouane is a special cultural event of the Tuareg in the northern Air Mountains (end of December). The festival of Timia is celebrated in southern Air (mid-May).
The “Cure Salée” festival, which takes place in Ingall, is a gathering of the Tuareg and Fulbe who bring their animals to the greater Ingall area after the rainy season, so that they can absorb the salty soil and plants. This occasion is the reason for the gathering, which is accompanied by a large festival attended by thousands of animal owners. Men and women put on their festive robes, with the Fulbe Woodaabe it is the men who put on make-up (and not, as written in the RFI article, the women). The ” Cure Salée ” (salt cure) is increasingly becoming a cultural event that attracts more tourists from year to year; as did the great gatherings of the Woodaabe after the rainy season.
Art / film / music / fashion / sports
Niger shows a colorful variety of traditional and modern arts and crafts. Art shows itself in the everyday craft of women and men who know how to combine traditional elements with modern elements. In the capital Niamey you can find the full spectrum of Nigerien handicrafts and handicrafts. Blacksmiths process bronze, silver and gold into jewelry, tableware and animal figures. Her area of work also includes leather processing (shoes, pillows, tags, CD boxes, etc.). Wickerwork (shell covers, mats) is mainly done by women. The kaleidoscope shows wonderful embroidery work by the Woodaabe, where women and men carry out this work, stone work by the Tuareg, ribbon weaving and much more.
The various crafts are presented in the National Museum. Niger regularly participates in the international craft fair SIAO (Salon International de l’Artisanat de Ouagadougou) in Burkina Faso.
Art is also evident in the various buildings made of clay architecture. Although the tradition of scraffiti is not as widespread as in other regions of Africa, you can see some houses with scraffiti in the Zinder region. Every granary is a work of art. Unfortunately, the largest of its kind in Niger fell victim to the rain – it was probably more than 10 m in diameter. Art are also the traditional moats like in Azelik, which are now likely to fall victim to the uranium mines.
The Nigerien filmmakers Ramatou Keita (“Aleesi une actrice africaine”), Oumarou Ganda (“L’exilé”), Moustapha Allasane and Inoussa Housseini are internationally known. The French ethnologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch, who died in 2004, has been involved in the Nigerien film scene since the 1950’s and has worked regularly with Nigerien filmmakers. Every year in February the “rétrospective du cinéma au Niger” take place in Niamey.
The best known Nigerien authors are Boubou Hama, Issa Ibrahim, Amadou Ousmane, Amadou Ide and the poet and calligrapher Hawad.
In the music field, the following groups are particularly successful internationally: Mamar Kassay, Denke Denke, Abdalla Oumbadougou, the Woodaabe Tuareg group Etran Finatawa, the rap band Wass Wong; Teracaft. and Mdou Moctar. Examples of traditional music, for example the Hausa from the 50’s, show the change in musical styles.
The founder of the Nigerien fashion fair FIMA, the fashion designer Alphadi, is also well-known, who not only incorporates traditional elements into his work, but is also always on the lookout for traditional materials and designs that he uses in his extravagant fashions.
The spectacle of the Francophonie is always a great event that connects the Francophone countries.
A special element that creates a cultural community in Niger is traditional wrestling, the Kokowa. Originally from the Hausa area, this sport has found many fans across the country. On this occasion there are sometimes half days off.
Football is the modern national sport number 1, it forges people of different ethnicities and wallets together, bolts are used everywhere, balls are made from all possible materials, your own football boots are a very special treasure. The loss of the CAN 2012 to Tunisia in the last minute by a handball (similar to the mistake made by Maradona in 1986) saddened the entire Nigerien nation.
In recent years, Asian martial arts, which are very popular with young people, have increased in the larger cities. Small successes adorn the history of Nigerien sport, like Balkissa Abdoulaye’s victory in the half marathon in Marseille at the end of September 2014.
International cultural and scientific institutions in Niger
- CCFN – Center culturel franco nigerien
- Center Culturel Americain
- AMMA-CATCH (Analyzes Multidisciplinaires de la Mousson Africaine-Analyzes Multidisciplinaires de la Mousson Africaine)
- Laboratoire d’Etudes et de Recherches sur les dynamiques sociales et le développement local
- IRD (Institut de recherche pour le Développement)