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Yan Daudu


Yan Daudu people are known as a group of people who are biologically male and often act feminine. Along with this, Yan Daudu people are often seen to be associated with prostitution, so called ‘independent women’, the Bori Cult and pagan traditions, as well as their persecution brought about through interpretations of Islam that saw Yan Daudu as immoral. In dissecting Yan Daudu identity, This page will first look at defining Yan Daudu identity before finally examining the current social situation of Yan Daudu people.

Yan Daudu Identity

The closest English translation for a Yan Daudu is apparent to be an ‘effeminate man’. However, the identity comes with many other connotations and attributes which this translation does not cover. According to Gaudio (2009), whilst many Yan Daudu can be seen to have sexual relations with men and act effeminate, they are not considered to be transgender in the sense that many do not attempt to be seen as women. Furthermore, they are not seen as being gay in the traditional western sense either as they are described as – whilst often doing so due to societal pressures – often marrying members of the opposite and starting a family, something which unlike in many Western nations is seen as not being compatible to homosexuality.

Whilst Yan Daudu are apparently most visible selling food at markets and taxi and bus stations, they are commonly associated with prostitution. According to Gaudio (2009), who studied yan daudu in Kano, Nigeria, yan daudu along with independent women would sometimes inhabit a ‘women’s houses’ (which are in some sense like brothels), often facilitating and engaging in sexual relations with masculine men, as well as engaging in a variety of other services and tasks such as serving food and drink. Furthermore, they are also associated with the Bori cult, a cult which bases itself on animistic Hausa beliefs, in which spirit possession is said to take place. The majority of the participants of this cult are said to be women and members of the lower class (including prostitutes and yan daudu). The term ‘daudu’ specifically refers to a spirit in the Bori practice, with the term ‘yan daudu’ meaning ‘sons of daudu’.

Whilst according to Gaudio’s experience in interacting with yan daudu during the 1990’s, most yan daudu were ethnically Hausa and followed Islam, he also mentions that some yan daudu had other ethnic ties (such as Fulani).

Currently, Yan Daudu people within Hausa culture are commonly viewed as immoral. This has been largely attributed to orthodox interpretations of Islamic law, as well as the codification of Islamic law into the regional legal systems of various Hausa-majority states. Specifically, Islamic norms are seen to be symbol of Hausa culture. This is in opposition with the Bori cult (often seen as being of pagan origin) often being seen as a refuge for women and yan daudu people from what are otherwise strict Islamic ideals.

A Hausa Language comedy sketch which depicts a group of yan daudu (Arewa Zone TV, 2018).

Hausa Concepts of Masculinity and the ‘Yan Daudu’

Salamone, F. A. (2007). Hausa Concepts of Masculinity and the ‘Yan Daudu. Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality, 1(1), 45-54.;dn=363597522155546;res=IELHSS

Nigeria’s yan daudu face persecution in religious revival

Mark, M. (2013, June 11). Nigeria’s yan daudu face persecution in religious revival. The Guardian.

Allah Made Us

Gaudio, R. P. (2009). Allah Made Us: Sexual Outlaws in an Islamic African City. Wiley-Blackwell.

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