Sharo Ceremony, the scars of Fulani love in Nigeria

Sharo fulani ceremony in northern Nigeria

We travelled to northern Nigeria to attend a Sharo or Shadi Fulani ceremony. There, in a remote village in Jigawa State on the border with Niger, is home to one of the largest communities of Fulani herdsmen in the whole of Nigeria. We heard that traditional Sharo ceremonies, a word derived from the Fulani language meaning ” flogging “, are still performed in this region.

We travel at night from the big city of Kano as the Sharo will take place after sunset and last well into the early hours of the morning.

Sharo vs Gerewol

Many of you know my admiration and fascination for the different Fulani peoples, we have been attending the Gerewol in Chad for many years and we have been doing cultural trips in search of different Fulani clans all over the Sahel. But this time we are not attending the famous Fulani Wodaabe beauty contest known as Gerewol, this time we are going in search of an initiation ceremony known as Sharo or Shadi.

The Sharo Ceremony

The ceremony or Sharo festivals are deeply rooted in the traditions of the Fulani people of Northern Nigeria and also of Southern Niger, Sharo is a captivating and distinctive cultural tradition of the Fulani people of Northern Nigeria.

Sharo festivals are held on specific occasions during Muslim calendar holidays, harvest festivals or marriage ceremonies. Sharo is a unique test of virility for young Fulani men. It is a ritual that shows their courage, resilience and ability to endure pain, while celebrating their cultural identity.

What does the Sharo ritual involve?

A central element of the Sharo is the ritual flogging, administered by a flogger using a long, thin stick. This flogger is also whipped at some point during the ceremony.

The young man who flogs does not intend to cause serious damage to the body of the person being flogged, but only pain. At the same time, the persons being whipped are not allowed to show expressions of pain or discomfort, let alone cry, and are expected to maintain a firm and stoic posture.


Sharo serves as a rite of passage for these Fulani youths, and symbolises their readiness to take on the responsibilities of adulthood. It is also practised to express the bravery and endurance of young Fulani boys who are passing into adulthood through brutal whippings. Once they prove their courage in the Sharo, they are ready to choose a wife and be able to marry.

Sharo banned in Niger

Sharo ceremonies are not without controversy and much opposition. Many see them as savage and cruel practices that endanger the health of young Fulani. In fact, the Nigerian government has officially banned these Sharo practices, although we know that they are still practised in villages far away from government authorities.

As we have seen on many occasions with the Fulani, they are an indomitable people who continue to preserve many of their traditions despite Islam and other external factors. The Fulani people are proud of their festivities and celebrations such as this Sharo celebration and we will not be the ones to judge what we see in their territories. It is they, the Fulani people, who strongly defend the Sharo, affirming its integral role in their cultural identity as well as instilling essential values such as courage, resilience and self-control, essential to face life’s challenges.

Sharo Nigeria

Trips to North Nigeria

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