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Patrick Willocq, Wale Me Regard
For the Ekondas pygmies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the most important moment in the life of a woman is the birth of her first child. The young mother is called wale (primiparous nursing mother). A walÃ© carries both responsibilities and status: she returns to her parents, where she remains secluded for a period of 2 to 5 years, and must adhere to several strict taboos during this time. The ritual is highly competitive, as it's about having more prestige and power than other wales, so she takes on a nickname to differentiate herself from rivals. Every day the young woman engages in an elaborate beautification ritual to draw attention to herself. She spreads a red preparation, a mixture of powder of ngola wood with palm oil, over her own body. The sophisticated hairstyles, made of a mud like paste, a mixture of ashes from bopokoloko leaves and palm oil, are yet another way for wales to flaunt their uniqueness. Actresses act and stage appearance.