MOTHER OR CHILD: This Wodaabe child that I met at a Gerwul ceremony is already a mother. She is so young, and yet participates in this festival where she may find another man to elope with if she is displeased with her first husband. She seems so young to me, with my western perspective. And yet, ironically, it seems to me that Wodaabe girls marry a little later than their Touareg counterparts. While they might be betrothed as early as 14, they may also marry as late as 16.
Girls in particularly have been excited to attend our school in Couloubade. They have talked at great length with our ammanimman staff, and requested that we help them continue their education. This not only means improving the quality of the school, but also working at length with their parents so that they will allow their children, particularly their daughters, to remain in school.
Parents in the past have had difficulty understanding the importance of school, as they see it as a conflict with their culture. But more recently, even though the Wodaabe are among the ethnic groups that have held on the most adamantly to their tradition, have also welcomed school and the opportunities that it can provide. We have great hope that more and more children will attend school, and that as a consequence, girls will retain their childhood for longer periods of time, and will have greater opportunities in the future.