Niger Everyday Life
How do people in Niger live?
The families in Niger are big. Each woman has an average of seven children (6.9). That is why there are many more children and young people than here. More than half of the population is under 18 years of age. Girls are usually married at an early age, and against their will too. You then move into the mother-in-law’s house and have to help there. For more articles on Niger and Africa, please visit extrareference.
By the age of 18, a large number of girls in Niger are married. Often they already have one or two children. Most children are born without medical help. If the mother is still very young and her pelvis is not yet large enough to have a child, she can be seriously injured and die or suffer injuries that no longer heal.
Most Nigerians, 84 out of 100, live in the countryside. Many families have a little arable land on which they grow fruit and vegetables. The children have to help. Girls have to tackle the household chores early on. They take care of younger siblings, cook or wash the dishes and laundry. They fetch water from pools or wells or they collect firewood.
Babies and small children are carried around on their backs, by the mother, but also by the older girls. The babies are always with you, doing field work, in the house, cooking and fetching water.
Life is outside. Cooking is usually done on an open fireplace in front of the house or in the yard. There are no refrigerators and washing machines. Not all houses have electricity. Almost everyone in cities has running water, but not even half of the population in rural areas. Few of them have flush toilets, even in the city.
The houses in the villages are made of clay or just that of straw. In the city, for example in Niamey, the houses are rather built of stone. They are single story and flat and the property is surrounded by a wall. Even if there is a small kitchen inside, most of the cooking is done outside.
Women prefer to wear dresses or skirts with colorful patterns. Often shawls are tied as a skirt. Most men tend to wear plain clothes, pants, and t-shirts or shirts. Girls are very fond of braided hair. Boys usually have very short clipped hair.
The Tuareg – life in the desert
The Tuareg live in the desert. They are traditionally nomads. So they do not have a permanent place of residence, but move around with their camels. The children of these Tuaregs therefore have a completely different life, which is also very different from that of the other children in Niger. However, there are also Tuaregs who no longer wander around but have settled down and cultivate fields or raise cattle or have moved into the city. Many Tuaregs live in Agadez in particular.
The Tuareg, who still live as nomads, live in tents made of palm fronds or leather. If they stay longer in one place, they build huts out of reeds. The names are Seribas. Tuareg women, the Targia, wear a headscarf but do not cover their face. The men, however, wear a face veil. It’s called Tagelmust. It offers protection from sun, wind and sand.
Camel milk is an important food source for the Tuareg. It is drunk fresh or fermented into thick milk. The typical bread of the Tuareg is called Taguella. It is baked from flour, salt and water and eaten with a sauce.
Wodaabe – cattle nomads to this day
The Wodaabe belong to the Fulbe people. They live as cattle nomads. 100,000 of them still exist. They live not only in Niger, but also in Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and the Central African Republic. Their lives are geared towards the needs of their cattle. This means that they follow the rain so that their cattle have water and grazing land. A large wooden bed is a family’s proudest possession. They mainly eat millet and milk.
A particularly important rule with the Wodaabe is that parents are not allowed to speak directly to their two first-born children! Men and women are also not allowed to talk to each other in person or hold hands during the day. What would your family life be like if you did at home?
The ideals of the Wodaabe are humility, patience, care, connectedness, and beauty. Young men are said to have white eyes and teeth. Therefore, when courting a young woman, they roll their eyes a lot and show their teeth. Women have tattoos on their faces.
Eating in Niger
What do the people of Niger eat?
The most important food in Niger is millet. The millet is ground into flour and boiled into a pulp with water. Such a porridge can also be made from corn. Rice is also eaten. There are spicy sauces with millet, corn or rice, for example made from peanuts, okra pods or tomatoes.
Those who can afford it eat meat with it: chicken, goat or sheep. Often one meal a day has to be enough, because the people in Niger are poor and when a drought threatens the harvest, there is particularly little to eat. A popular stew made with lamb and beans is called Dounguouri Soko. You can cook it yourself, you can find the recipe under participation tip.
A Nigerian specialty is baked cheese. He is very popular with ranchers. Kilishi, air-dried strips of meat, mostly made of beef, which are coated with a spicy paste, is also popular.
The family gathers on a straw mat to eat. You sit on the floor with the pot or plate with the food in the middle. Depending on where you sit, you eat your part from this plate, which is roughly a triangle to the center of the plate. As is common in West Africa, people eat with the right hand.