Timothy Allen May 6, 2009Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Niger.
Mating Ritual, Wodaabe Tribe, Niger
Timothy Allen (b.1971, England) graduated from Leeds University with a BSc in Zoology. In the nineties, Timothy joined an aid convoy to Bosnia in order to shoot his first year reportage project. Six months later he left college, moved to London and begun working for the Sunday Telegraph, later inspiring commissions from all the British broadsheet publications and finally, a six year position at The Independent. Timothy’s photographs have appeared in many of the world’s prominent editorial publications and his work has been included in countless books and exhibitions. Amongst his commendations, he has received six Picture Editors’ Guild Awards including the title of Arts Photographer of the Year. Timothy also writes a weekly blog for the BBC about indigenous societies around the world for the documentary Human Planet.
About the Photograph:
“This photo was taken on a recent trip to Niger shooting for ‘Human Planet’. We were living with the nomadic Wodaabe Tribe in the desert near Lake Chad during a time when they gather for a festival known locally as the Gerewol. The main purpose of this festival is to give the men and women of the tribe the chance to meet and have romantic liaisons over the six days of the gathering. Unlike most of the world’s cultures, here it is up to the men to appeal to the women. They do so by dressing up in these elaborate costumes and dancing in a line in front of the women for hours at a time. The women spot the guys they fancy and then later on when the dance changes, they stand behind the men and stroke the back of the one they like signaling their intent. The Wodaabe women favor tallness, white eyes and white teeth in their mates and consequently, during the dance the men roll their eyes and expose their teeth to emphasize these characteristics. We had to travel three days through the desert to arrive at this spot as a guest of a Wodaabe King.”