Friday, January 5, 2018

Seven YouTube Videos Of West Africans Wearing Dots And/Or Other Face And Body Paint

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases seven videos of West African females and males who are wearing dots and/or other face and body paint. The West African nations that are showcased in this video are (in alphabetical order) Cameroons, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo.

Brief information about the various ethnic groups who are featured in these videos is also included in this post.

This post is part of an ongoing pancocojams series about traditional and contemporary African face and body painting. Click the traditional and contemporary African face and body painting below to find other pancocojams posts on this subject.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

Thanks to all those who are featured in this post and all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to all the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
DISCLAIMER: This post isn't meant to represent all of the different types of face painting or body painting that is worn by West Africans.

Nor does this post imply that people from the ethnic groups who are showcased in these videos always wear face or body paint during these dances or otherwise.

PANCOCOJAMS EDITOR'S COMMENT (Revised January 7, 2018)
Since at least 2015, there have been a number of YouTube tutorials about "African Face Painting" (also given as "African Tribal Painting)". Many of these videos focus on painting temporary designs made out of dots, lines, swirls, and/or other geometric figures on one's face and/or body or on another person's face/body. One example of these YouTube tutorials is "African Tribal Makeup (NIGER) -Traditional Clothing- Maquillage traditionel du NIGER" published by Belledu Sahel, Published on Feb 13, 2015

The videographer wrote in her summary that "This is a traditional makeup and outfit from my country Niger." In response to a question (written in French) about whether the clothing was from the Fulanis, the videographer said that it was Taureg.

The appropriateness of Black people and other people in the United States and other Western cultures wearing so-called "African tribal" face and body painting has been and continues to be hotly debated. Click for a 2016 pancocojams post on the subject of whether it's culturally appropriate for Black people in the African Diaspora (and other people) to paint dots and other so-called African tribal designs on their face and/or body.

Rather than add to that debate, I've chosen to focus on questions that continue to be asked in a number of discussion threads of YouTube videos of these "African Tribal Painting" tutorials. This post and some other posts in this pancocojams series addresses the question: "Which African ethnic groups* do these painted designs (or designs like this) come from?"

Most of the publishers of these tutorials respond to these questions by saying that their designs are "inspired" by various (usually unnamed) African "ethnic groups"*.

*Note that I've substituted the term "ethnic group" for "tribe" as I consider "tribe" to be a term that's loaded with all sorts of negative European colonial connotations.

In an upcoming pancocojams series I'll provide some information gleaned from the internet that may be extrapolated to help explain what some traditional African face/body painting and scarification designs might mean.

Use pancocojams' internal search engine or click the "traditional and contemporary African face and body painting" tag below to find other pancocojams post on this subject.

Example #1: Wodaabe Tribe (Niger)

IndigoChildrenVideo, Published on Apr 30, 2009
In contrast to most YouTube videos that I've watched about the Wodaabes, this video doesn't only focus on the men, but also includes some scenes of females with facial paint.

Here's an excerpt from
"The Wodaabe (Fula: Woɗaaɓe), also known as the Mbororo or Bororo, are a small subgroup of the Fulani ethnic group. They are traditionally nomadic cattle-herders and traders in the Sahel, with migrations stretching from southern Niger, through northern Nigeria, northeastern Cameroon, southwestern Chad, and the western region of the Central African Republic.[1] The number of Wodaabe was estimated in 2001 to be 100,000.[2][3] They are known for their elaborate attire and rich cultural ceremonies."...

Example #2: St Michael's Catholic Youth Dance - Okija, Nigeria (Part 1)

missionoz, Published on Jul 19, 2011

'The Outing Ceremony' dance is performed by the Youth of St Michael's Catholic in Ihite Okija in Nigeria. This event was hosted by the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Anthony C. Ananwa. [Igbo ethnic group]
Two times in this video when the body paint can be clearly seen are 8:19 and 9:51.
Here's information about the Igbo ethnic group:
"The Igbo people ...; erroneously Ibo,[3][4] formerly also Iboe, Ebo, Eboe,[5] Eboans,[6] Heebo;[7] natively Ṇ́dị́ Ìgbò [ìɡ͡bò] ... are an ethnic group native to the present-day south-central and southeastern Nigeria. Geographically, the Igbo homeland is divided into two unequal sections by the Niger River – an eastern (which is the larger of the two) and a western section.[8][9] The Igbo people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa.[10]

The Igbo language is divided into numerous regional dialects, and somewhat mutually intelligible with the larger "Igboid" cluster.[11] The Igbo homeland straddles the lower Niger River, east and south of the Edoid and Idomoid groups, and west of the Ibibioid (Cross River) cluster."...

Example #3: Manyu Music [Manyu Christian song; The Cameroons]

Bishop Bonnie Etta, Published on Feb 27, 2012
Here's information about the Manyu ethnic group of the Cameroons:
posted by etamaze, September 2nd, 2011
"The Manyu people belong to the southwest of Cameroon and together hold a population of over 300,000 individuals. Though many often refer to the manyu as one tribe the division consists of three main tribes. The Ejagham, the Bayangi and the Boki. archaeological evidence suggest the Manyu people first settled in their present day land during 170 A.D. The Ikom monoliths of the cross river regions which were built between 270 B.C to 170 A.D suggest the manyu by that time were able to develop the Nsibidi script. First originated by the Ejagham people. The capital of the sub-division is The village of Eyumojock. In ancient times the government was the Mgbe or leopards club. Only ran by men. It helped to keep the villages together and scholars believe they invented the Nsibidi script judging that of the over 500 characters unknown to scientist the Mgbe use them in secret. Such clubs/associations were once a big part of a mans upbringing. The Manyu have a rich culture and history as well that is still fully acknowledged today."...

Example #4: Spectacle danse Africaine à Kuvé, Togo.

jongleaveclavie, Published on Jul 2, 2012

Nous rendons visite à l'école du Village de Kuvé pour assister à... disons une fête de fin d'année...
Google translation from French to English:
We visit the village school of Kuvé to attend ... say a holiday season ...
The scenes that show face painting worn by the students begin at 2:35 to 4:26.

Example #5: Efik Dance Nigeria

fulani100, Published on Oct 28, 2012

A dance that the Efiks do during the traditional wedding of one of theirs
Here's some information about the Efik ethnic group from
"The Efik are an ethnic group located primarily in southeastern Nigeria, in the southern part of Cross River State....Creek Town and its environs are often commonly referred to as Calabar, and its people as Calabar people, after the European name Calabar Kingdom given to the state [in present-day Cross River State. Calabar is not to be confused with the Kalabari Kingdom in Rivers State which is an Ijaw state to its west. Cross River State with Akwa Ibom State was formerly one of the original twelve states of Nigeria known as the Southeastern State.

The Efik people also occupy southwestern Cameroon including Bakassi.


The Efik are related to the Annang, Ibibio, Oron, Biase, Akampkpa, Uruan, and Eket people."...

Example #6: Mbaye Ndiaye - tilala [Senegal]

Djoloftv Sénégal, Published on Apr 29, 2014
Two times in this video when the body paint can be clearly seen up close are 2:14 and 3:07.

Here's a long excerpt about Mbaye Ndiaye which provides some information about aspects of Senegalese culture:
Mbaye Dieye Faye (born 1 October 1960) is a singer and percussionist from Senegal.

Mbaye Dieye Faye is a singer and percussionist in Senegal. He was born to a modest family of griots. He had a difficult life before he became a celebrity. He sings because he's a griot, but it's a passion for him to sing. He dreamt of being one of the famous singers in his country.

He grew in a family of griots, but he had problems when he wanted to be a singer. Formerly, people used to say that when you sing, you are going to "take a bad way". For instance, you can use drugs or alcohol—because of the environment, bars, hotels, dancing—so, that was the reason his father defended him to become a drummer.[1]

When he was child, his father sent him to koranic school before he entered French school. But at a young age, he deserted school and became a carpenter of metals after he began to tap the drums. When he first informed his father about his affection for music, his father started to beat him. It was after becoming conscious of the his son's devotion, that his father consented.[2]

But like many children, Mbaye Dieye Faye was very stubborn, so he continued to decide to be a singer before his father decided to give him his agreement. After all, it was normal for the young son of Sing Sing to tap the drums. Like it is said in a Wolof proverb, "Donou sa baaye ayoul", meaning that it’s not a shame to follow the same job as your father. So Mbaye Dieye Faye begun to tap the drums with his companion Youssou N'Dour well known as the "King of Mbalax" in Senegal. Mbaye Dieye Faye had begun singing when he gave up his work as a metal carpenter. Too young, Mbaye Dieye Faye left this school.

His first concert with Youssou N'Dour was very wonderful for them even if they got only one thousand Cfa each. Youssou N'Dour is an old best friend and a colleague of Mbaye Dieye Faye. According to Mbaye Dieye Faye, Youssou Nour is a best among the best people. They share many things and together they will realize their dream, success.

In his adulthood, he married his beloved Mame Ndiaye and has his kids with her. According to Mbaye Dieye Faye, it is not easy to become famous but also it's not easy being famous. Indeed, famous people are not free; they can’t do whatever they want. To gain his life, Mbaye Dieye Faye has his music, the praise he made during ceremonies, concerts, and advertisements such as ‘ halib’ a milk product, ‘the la force’ a tea product… [2]

Now, Mbaye Dieye Faye is famous singer and percussionist in Senegal. He makes rhythm in his music, the Mbalax. What makes Mbaye Faye famous is not only his ability to beat the drum but his way of dancing and giving life in his concerts. Since he is always a “griot”, he knows how to make himself listened to. He is a court musician; he sang praise and told the history of people or the region which interest people. The advertisements also make him popular.

Formally, the Senegalese Mbalax was not very rhythmic because they used only drums and some traditional instruments. However, it changed completely with the modern musicians particularly Mbaye Dieye Faye. In fact, this latter with the new instruments such as the piano, guitar, and saxophone play a mixed music meaning the traditional music and the modern one—for instance, the beat of drums and the blare of trumpets.[1]

Mbaye Dieye Faye has composed some albums, such as Songama, Live biir Thiossane, Oupoukay, and others. Songoma is the most famous, and the one most appreciated by the audience. This music had caused many problems because of religious principles. Indeed, it is a dance which required a certain way of dressing. It is called “Joubax out”, missing Wolof and English which means literally “navel out”. To attract more attention, girls wore indecent, tied, and transparent clothes. They must look like prostitutes to be exciting. However, others think that “songoma” is only a dance like all dances. It brings people to be more friends, to enjoy oneself. So, even in families, people can dance it just for pleasure."...

Example #7: Akwa Ibom tradition | Ikon dance [Nigeria]

Uduak Essien, Published on Jun 20, 2014

The Ikon Eto (wooden xylophone) and Obodom (wooden drum) are also popular instruments in Akwa Ibom State. The homogenous nature of the people is accountable for the minor difference in our traditions and custom, including all other aspects of cultural life. Little or no difference exists in our dances, songs, myths, shrines, funerals, folklore, mode of dressing, foods, cults, festivals and monuments.
Here's some information about the Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria:
"Akwa Ibom is a state in Nigeria. It is located in the coastal southern part of the country, lying between latitudes 4°32′N and 5°33′N, and longitudes 7°25′E and 8°25′E. The state is located in the South-South geopolitical zone, and is bordered on the east by Cross River State, on the west by Rivers State and Abia State, and on the south by the Atlantic Ocean and the southernmost tip of Cross River State.

Akwa Ibom is one of Nigeria's 36 states, with a population of over five million people. The state was created in 1987 from the former Cross River State and is currently the highest oil- and gas-producing state in the country. The state's capital is Uyo, with over 500,000 inhabitants...

The people are predominantly Christian. The main ethnic groups of the state are:


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1 comment:

  1. Please excuse my ignorance, but are the Efik dancers who are featured in the video given as Example #5 above from the same ethnic group as the dancers featured in the video given as Example #7 which is entitled Akwa Ibom tradition | Ikon dance?