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Keeping Up with the Fulani - Jewelry and Parties

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Madame N'Boye Youro Bocoum at her cloth workshop
In the Fulani culture, the men have beauty contests, and the women's earrings weigh more than your heaviest schoolbook. The Fulani herd cattle in West Africa, and I got to meet one of them in the city of Djenne. His name is Alliye, and he told me about the Fulani.

The Fulani are famous for a big festival they have called the Cure Salee. Since they spend most of the year traveling around taking care of their cattle, they get together once a year in an area where there is lots of salt, which their cattle need to stay healthy. So they make sure to have fun once they all get there!

This is when the men put on their makeup!! They paint their lips black so their teeth seem sparkly-white, paint streaks down their foreheads and noses, braid their hair, and wear beads and shiny jewelry. Once they have put on their makeup, they do a dance to impress the women.

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It pays to get married
The Fulani women are most famous for their amazingly huge gold earrings. These earrings are so heavy that when the women wear them, they have to attach a string and wear that string over their head to support the weight. My friend Alliye says that "each earring weighs more than a human heart."

The Fulani culture, fascinating and beautiful, is a part of West Africa that I will always carry in my heart. Thank goodness I don't have to carry their jewelry on my ears!


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