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The Fattening Farms of Mauritania – Force-Feeding Young Girls in the name of Beauty

While the whole world is obsessed over getting thin, it seems there are far-flung places in the world today where fat is still considered a thing of beauty. Not in a good way, though. In the West African nation of Mauritania, it is so important for girls to be fat that they are sent away to fat camp – the opposite of the western version – during school holidays, to put on oodles of weight.

According to women’s rights campaigner Mint Ely, girls as young as five are subjected to the tradition known as Leblouh each year. Leblouh is an attempt to groom young girls for potential suitors, involving the consumption of gargantuan amounts of food; even vomit, if it refuses to stay down. Ely says that in Mauritania, a woman’s size indicates the space she occupies in her husband’s heart. So to make sure no other woman can ever have room, girls are sent away for Leblouh at special farms where older women will administer the necessary diet. It’s rather appalling to know that 5, 7 and 9-year-olds are expected to consume a daily diet of two kilos of pounded millet mixed with two cups of butter and 20 liters of camel’s milk. Their daily consumption comes up to a whopping 16,000 calories.

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Nigerian Artisan Covers Car in Woven Raffia Palm Cane to Advertise His Business

Ojo Obaniyi, a talented artisan from the Nigerian city of Ibadan has come up with an ingenious way of advertising his raffia palm cane weaving services – he covered the inside and outside of his Volkswagen pickup in the natural material.

There are a lot of raffia palm cane weavers in Nigeria, but one of them has managed to attract the attention of the whole internet, after photos of his unique advertisement-on-wheels were picked up by major news sites. 40-year-old Ojo Obaniyi had the original idea to cover up both the inside and outside of his small Volkswagen pickup in raffia palm cane. That includes the entire car body, the wheel caps, chairs, steering wheel and the entire dashboard. When he was done, he jumped in his one-of-a-kind vehicle and started driving around the city, attracting the attention of passers-by. Ojo, who has 20 years of experience weaving raffia palm cane, said “I wanted to prove a point that it is not only the educated elite that can make positive changes in society. We, the artisans also have talents to effect a change and make a positive impact in the society. That is why I decided that I too must do something that will make people to recognize me and know me across the whole world and by extension prove to the world that African and indeed the entire Black Race have very talented people.” This just goes to show you creative ideas and talent don’t need big advertising budgets to be effective.

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Black Gums Are Considered a Sign of Beauty in West Africa

I’ve read about people getting tattoos on the weirdest places of their bodies, but this one just beats them all. Never before have I heard of people getting their gums tattooed. Not in any particular design, but just a uniform black color. This is actually a popular practice among women in West African countries like Senegal, because over there apparently, black gums are a thing of beauty.

Tattooed black gums are especially popular in small towns and villages like Thies, in Senegal. Women here practice this ancient tradition to get a smile that is considered more attractive. Of course, the process is nothing short of painful. Marieme, from Thies, is one such young girl to have gone through the procedure. I watched a documentary on YouTube that covered her journey from having regular gums to the more desirable black variety. Before she went for it, she said, “I want black gums to obtain a more beautiful smile. It’s become an obsession. I do fear the procedure. But I’ll be OK.”

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Dung Spitting Competition Will Leave a Bad Taste in Your Mouth

Kudu Dung Spitting is an African sport popular enough to have its own official competition, in which contestants have to put a kudu dung pellet in their mouth and spit it as far as possible.

Some people use dung to make coffee taste better, but in some parts of Africa it’s used to fuel a weird pastime called Bokdrol Spoek. Roughly translated as “spitting buck droppings  this quirky tradition has people putting dung pellets in their mouth and spitting them as far as they can. The origins of kudu dung spitting can be traced back to tribal hunters who had difficulties catching the fast antelope. Most times the only sign of the animal was a trail of dung, which meant it had been there but it was long gone. Apart from swearing at the elusive kudus, hunters would engage in a contest of pellet spitting, to pass the time. In countries like South Africa, the disgusting custom is so popular that there’s even a championship held every year to find out who can spit a piece of antelope poop the farthest.

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The Daily Talk – Liberia’s Blackboard Newspaper

The Daily Talk is a unique news medium published on a blackboard in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city. As most Liberians lack the money and means to access conventional mass media, this chalk-written daily “newspaper” is the most widely read report in Monrovia.

In the Western world, many are already talking about the death of written media, and the coming age of online information, but in some countries, access to old-fashion newspapers is still a thing of the future. Many Monrovians can’t afford to buy real newspapers or electricity to access the internet, so Alfred J. Sirleaf, the founder of this blackboard newspaper had to come up with a way to bring information to the people in an inexpensive way. He believes a well-informed people is the key to Liberia’s rebirth so ever since he started his unique venture  on Tubman Boulevard, in 2000, in central Monrovia, he’s been providing valuable news every single day. For local news, he relies on a team of volunteer reporters who come to him with stories, while for international events he goes to an internet cafe to access sites like the BBC, because he doesn’t own a computer. Then, in the newsroom, a small wooden shed attached to the back of his blackboard, he updates The Daily Talk with chalk. He’s the editor, the designer and sole employee of the unique newspaper, yet he manages to get his message across.

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Man Single Handedly Carves Orthodox Churches in the Side of Mountain

It’s the stuff that ancient legends are made of, but I guess you could call the story of Aba Defar a modern-day miracle. How else would you explain an old man carving four churches on a mountain side of the Ethiopian highlands, all on his own?

Aba Defar is a man driven by his faith in religion. At one point in life he was a family man and a weaver by profession. But all that changed with a simple dream he had in 1959. The Holy Spirit appeared in his dream, showing him a mountain church carved out of sheer rock. The dream kept repeating itself over the next 30 years, but he never knew what to make of it. It was when he had a vision that he finally understood that his life’s mission was awaiting him.

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Akodessewa Fetish Market – Africa’s Voodoo Supermarket

Togo’s Akodessewa Fetish Market is recognized as the largest fetish market in the world, a place where Voodoo practitioner can find anything they need for their rituals.

The practice of voodoo began in West Africa, before being taken to America by slaves, and in countries like Togo, Ghana, or Nigeria the religion is very much alive. Many people believe healers using animal parts and strange talismans can invoke spirits with their bizarre rituals, and solve their problems. And if there’s one place where voodoo priests can stock up on their creepy supplies, it’s the Akodessewa Fetish Market, in Togo’s capital city, Lome. Just think of it as an outdoor pharmacy where various animal parts, bone statues and herbs take the place of conventional medicine.

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Gregory Da Silva – The African Mad Hatter

Gregory Da Silva, better known as Egg Man, is an African comedian artist and storyteller famous for wearing an outrageous had adorned with 1,000 eggs.

Born in Benin, West Africa, Da Silva studied computer science but decided to follow his artistic calling and went on to found a theater group called Voice of Spirit. They performed political, comic and poetic theater shows in Benin, but he made a name for himself after he became the Egg Man and started giving street performances wearing his ridiculously large headgear. When he first started performing in Cape Town, South Africa, Gregory’s art was so unique it got him arrested by the local police, who had to call their superior for advice on what to do with him. They were told to let him go, and he’s been performing in the city’s Green Market Square ever since.

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Chefchaouen – The Blue City of Morocco

One of Morocco’s most popular tourist destinations, Chefchaouen is most known for its blue-rinsed buildings and alleys, an old tradition leftover from the city’s Jewish population.

Chefchaouen was founded by Moorish exiles from Spain, in 1471, as a small fortress to fend off the attacks of invading Portuguese forcess in northern Morocco. After the Spanish Reconquista, the small mountain town became one of the largest Moriscos and Jews  refuge sites, and during their stay they managed to leave their mark on it, one that makes the modern city so special.

The name Chefchaouen comes from “chauen”, which is Spanish for horns, and refers to the shape of the two mountains overlooking the settlement. But it’s not its strange name, the beautiful and unique handicrafts sold by local craftsman, or the delicious goat cheese that attracts the majority of tourists to Chefchaouen. It’s the blue-painted houses and buildings of the city, a tradition inherited from the former Jewish inhabitants. In the Bible, Israelites are commanded to dye one of the threads in their tallit (prayer shawl) blue, with tekhelel. This was an old natural dye, processed from a species of shellfish, but in time its production collapsed and the Jewish people eventually forgot how to make it. But, in honor of the sacred commandment, the color blue was still woven into the cloth of their tallit. When they look at the dye, they will think of the blue sky, and the God above them in Heaven.

While the Jewish population of Chefchoauen isn’t as numerous as it one was, practically everyone in the city still follows this old tradition and frequently renew the paint job on their homes.

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Africa’s Most Dangerous Animal Is Man’s Best Friend

The hippo is regarded as he most dangerous animal in Africa, but that hasn’t stopped a South African animal lover from making friends with one.

40-year-old Marius Els breeds around 20 different animal species, on his wildlife ranch, near Petrus Steynlakes, South Africa, but he has a real soft spot for Humphrey, a 6-year-old hippo that’s like a son to him. While all of his friends are too scared to go near the animal, and his wife told him not to get too close, Marius climbs on Humhprey’s back  as he swims across a 200-meter-wide lake.

Marius has raised Humphrey since he was just five months old, and over the years, the two have developed a special relationship that people just don’t understand. Most of the world may look upon hippos with fear, but he considers Humphrey to be like a son, although the 1,200 ton creature could chew through him with ease. But, apart from occasionally throwing Marius off his back in the water, Humphrey acts very friendly around his owner, especially after Marius offers him a feats of his favorite treat, apples.

Despite the special friendship with Marius, Humphrey feels very lonely at this point in his life. He had another good friend, a goat, but she got eaten by a jackal, so now he’s all by himself. Marius says he’s been trying to get a tamed female companion for Humphrey, but there’s no such thing in Africa right now, and bringing in a wild one would be too dangerous. If the untamed female isn’t younger than he is, they would just kill each other. On the other hand, he can’t release Humphrey in the wild, because the other male hippos would almost definitely kill him in a fight. At least Humphrey will also have Marius to keep him company

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Only in Africa – Elephants Calmly Walk through Hotel Lobby

What would your reaction be if were to check into this hotel in Zambia and encountered this enormous and possibly dangerous African elephant in the lobby?

This is what happens when people get in the way between an elephant and his favorite snack and the owners of the luxurious Mfuwe Lodge in Zambia found this out on the hard way, when a family group of elephants simply walked through the hotel’s lobby to get to their mango tree.

Although they are wild animals, they seem to have gotten used to having people around them and have grown a special relation with everybody at the hotel.Interestingly enough, elephants get very close to the hotels staff but guests are advised not to get to close.

Building the hotel in their path was unintended, but the owner recognizes he had no idea that the elephants would return. This has been going on for several years and the group of elephants comes back every year around the month of November, eating their favorite fruits about four times a day.

The director of the Bushcamp Company, which that runs the Mfuwe Lodge, Andy Hogg, explains: “There are ten in that herd and it is only that herd that comes through. It is a strange thing. The matriarchal in the herd is Wonky Tusk, and she brings the nine others through and they come and go as they please.”

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Amazing Catch in Congo River : 5ft long 100lbs Giant Piranha

You probably all know the famous fisherman from Animal Planet’s River Monsters, Jeremy Wade. While he was on a fishing expedition with his crew in Africa, up the Congo River, the British angler made an amazing and rarely catch : he grappled with a giant piranha and managed to defeat the monster after a serious fight.

The result was astonishing as the 52-year-old fisherman pulled out of water a 5ft long goliath tigerfish and held it with both arms for fear of being bitten by its 32 razor-sharp teeth that have the same dimensions as those of a white shark. The goliath tigerfish is well known as being one of the most dangerous freshwater fish in the world, so Wade said he was extremely cautious when he pulled it out of water.

The 100lbs monster hasn’t been caught more than a few times before because of its ferocity and its habitat, which is very hard to reach. The giant piranha seems to consume prey the same size at itself and there have been cases when others have seen it tearing apart crocodiles or even people.

Jeremy Wade’s catch, the “giant piranha”, can easily be on top when we talk about world’s most terrifying creatures.

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13-Year-Old Boy Makes Friends with Killer Buffaloes

To most South-Africans they are known as the “Black Death, but to 13-year-old Luke Michaelides, two wild African Buffalos have become his best friends.

The African Buffalo is one of the “big five” African species credited with killing over 200 people every year, in South Africa alone. Some specimens grow up to 6 feet tall and 11 feet long, and can weigh up to 1,350 kg. They can easily rip apart a full grown man, let alone a 13-year-old, but that hasn’t stop Luke from becoming friends with “Hop-a-long” and her offspring “Skip-a-long”.

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Ganvie – The Village Built on Stilts

The village of Ganvie, in Benin, is the only human settlement in the world, built on stilts, in the middle of a lake, several kilometers from the nearest shore.

But people don’t just go ahead and build themselves a home, in the middle of a lake, they must have a serious reason. And the reason for the existence of Ganvie can be traced back to the 18th century, when a peaceful African tribe, the Tofinu, tired of running from the slaver tribe of Dom Homey, decided to build themselves a home, on Lake Nokoue.

The Dom Homey believed a terrible demon lived in the lake, and their ruthless warriors dared not set foot in its waters. The Tofinu had finally found their peace. But fast forward to present day,and the people of Ganvie are still reluctant to go on solid ground, although the threat of slavery is only a distant memory. They’ve ground accustomed to living on the water, and wouldn’t abandon their unique lifestyle, for anything.

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Nigeria’s Fighting Rams

The city of Lagos, in Nigeria, has hosted the 13th All-Nigerian Ram Fighting Championships. This increasingly popular sport drew an impressive crowd, eager to see the animal compete.

Ram fighting is a popular sport in countries like Algeria, Indonesia and China, but in Nigeria it even has its own Ram Lovers Association, which organizes ram fighting events. believe it or not, this sport isn’t as bloody as you might think. During the history of the championships, only one ram has lost its life, and there has rarely ever been any blood shed. According to Bashir Augusto, founder of the Ram Lovers Association, rams naturally love to fight, the only difference is here they do it for the entertainment of the crowd.

The animals, of the same weight class, are placed together in a dirt ring, with a judge and several referees closely watching them. Usually they naturally run towards each other and but heads. The fight ends when one of the rams runs away from the fight. One match normally lasts for less than 10 blows, but the longest match, this year, lasted for 98.

Just like human boxers, fighting rams go through rigorous physical training (especially running), have special diets, rich in beans and bananas, and even have their very own music, as they step into the ring. This year, in the main event, Gobe, last year’s champion, retained his title and won his master a brand new refrigerator. In Africa, I bet that’s a prize worth fighting for.

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