Breastfeeding Before Eloping

Eloping BREASTFEEDING BEFORE ELOPING: (fourth in the breastfeeding series) This Wodaabe Fulani mother is nursing her baby while she awaits the beginning of the Geerewol ceremony. This is her firstborn son; she will never call him by his birth name.  Among the Fulani, a first born child is never called by his or her real name by his mother.  The belief is that if she did pronounce his name, the mother’s love for her child would compete with her love for her mate (traditionally, she does not marry, and may have many mates throughout her life). While her baby eats contently, the mother is busy watching men prepare themselves for their dances.  Men and older boys are putting on makeup and dressing in beautifully embroidered traditional garb.  When the dances begin, they will ceremoniously jump up and down while opening their eyes and mouth wide, to show off the whiteness of both.  The whiter the more beautiful… A man may elope with this mother after the ceremony, committing teegal, if he has caught her fancy during the dances… or covered himself in enough wooing magic potion.  She will steal off with him for one or two years, or until the next Geerewol ceremony, at which point she may choose another man to spend time with.