Tarkama The Tarkama is the rite by which the body of the deceased Saraouniya de Lougou designates her successor. Saraouniya Aljimma, appointed by the Tarkama of Saraouniya Gado in 1983, died on January 7, 2023 after nearly forty years of rule.

The Tarkama of Saraouniya Aljimma was organized very quickly, on Monday, January 9th. The rite requires the participation of nationals of several of the many villages from Lougou. The body of the deceased is prepared in its large hut, which will be destroyed soon after. The new Saraouniya will have its new large square, the location of which will be chosen by the Tarkama.

The body is wrapped in a mat placed on a platform carried by four carriers, one at each corner. The four porters are from Darei, a village in Dankassari commune and Bagagi, a village in Matankari commune. The man who holds the ax and who strikes the ground when he questions the Tarkama came from Guilme, in the commune of Dogonkiria, he is accompanied by a woman who regularly strikes an overturned calabash on another calabash which contains water as well as a musician with his drum.

Outside a whole crowd is present, the women and girls watch rather from afar, the men and boys come closer. Officials are seated in armchairs, including the Kona of Dogondoutchi, the Prefect of the department, the Mayors of Dankassari and Dogondoutchi, representatives of Sarkin Arewa and the canton chief of Tibiri as well as members of RAEDD. The gendarmerie is present to ensure the maintenance of order. Azna priests are seated on the ground, they can be recognized by their costumes and their white cotton caps. More than ten women were gathered, those who live close to Lougou and meet the criteria to be designated.

Once the preparations are complete, the Tarkama leaves the large box. The whole rite now takes place in public. She first goes to the bush around the village, her task is to find a needle that has been hidden there. This step verifies that the Tarkama fulfills its function. Back in the village, she greets the officials and then the Azna priests.

The man with the ax strikes the ground and names one by one the women gathered. If the Tarkama chooses one, she must manifest it by coming over her head. This is how Aljimma was chosen in 1983, to her surprise. But this time she does not designate any of these women.

After greeting the Azna priests, the Tarkama leaves for the village to identify the claim of the future queen. Once the house is found, she is questioned to designate the woman from this family, who will now reign. She chooses Kambari who, born in Lougou, lives in Toudoun-Barewa, where her now deceased husband was. She is not present in Lougou. We warn her sons because they have to say goodbye to her, they will no longer have the opportunity to see her. We pick her up by car, she arrives in Lougou and now lives in the village (see more details in the Portrait of Saraouniya Kambari at the end of the Magazine).
Lougou has a new queen, Saraouniya Kambari.
The Tarkama has finished its work. Encouraged by musicians, young people dig the tomb of Aljimma, at the place that the Tarkama has identified. His body will be buried surrounded by the skin of an ox. She will now rest in Lougou in the Saraouniya cemetery.

Tarkama was photographed and filmed by Aziz Soumaïla whom Tarbiyya Tatali sent to Lougou as soon as we knew he would be welcome to document the rite. A short film was then edited by Culture Plus in collaboration with AECIN. To our knowledge, this is the first time that a Tarkama has been filmed in Lougou. Many thanks to the population of Lougou for their welcome and to the municipal authorities of Dankassari for their support.