National Ethnic Joke Week

No, not in America, but apparently in Niger, ethnic jokes are a way to keep the tension down during a time of potential civil war. From AFP:
In Niger, a centuries-old custom that allows people to make jokes at the expense of their "cousins" from other tribes, far from exacerbating ethnic tensions, actually has a calming effect on them.
Under the accepted "rules", the person targeted has to put a brave face on things and anyone who loses his temper or gets upset when "attacked" becomes a laughing stock within his own community, Ali Bida said.
But in a time of heightened tension caused by a Tuareg rebellion in the north, some people in Niger find the practice increasingly difficult.
Sidi, a Tuareg living in Niamey says he is sick and tired of hearing his Djerma "cousins" call him a "bandit" and tease him about planting anti-personnel mines.
In April, Niger authorities even plan to organise a "National Week of Ethnic Jokes" with radio programmes, conferences, joke competitions and cultural evenings.
Being of Scandinavian heritage, we have jokes where we make fun of ourselves, playing off the stereotype of cheap, hardworking, dumb and romantically inept Norwegians/Swedes. They make the occasional appearance on Prairie Home Companion. Here are a couple:

Vun day, Sven vas valking down da street ven who did he see driving a brand new Chevrolet? It vas Ole. Ole pulled up to him vit a vide smile.
"Ole, vere did ya get dat car?" Sven asked.
"Lena gave it to me".
"She gave it to you? I knew she vas sveet on you, but dis?".
"Vell, let me tell you vat happened. Ve vere driving out on county road 6, in da middle of novere. Lena pulled off da road into da woods. She parked, got out of da car, trew off alla her clothes and said, "Ole take vatever you vant."...So I took da car"
"Ole, your a smart man, dem clothes never voulda fit ya."

Sven was just pulling his boat up on shore when Ole wandered up with a puzzlement:
Ole: Sven! Vat cho been doin?
Sven: I bin fishin, Ole. Wha cho tink I bin doin with dese here rods?
Ole: Ditcha catch anythin?
Sven: (Under his breath: "Dumb svede.") Of course I catch somethin. Sven alvays catches ven he fishes.
Ole: If I guess how many you catch will you gimme one o' dem?
Sven: If you guesses how many I catch I'll give you BOTH a dem!
Ole: I guess TREE!
Sven: Dat ain't bad for a Svede. You only missed it by TWO!


Harry said...

And one more.

Sven and Ole go into a bar and order beers. Sven looks down the bar and sees two women sitting there.

"Hey, Ole, look at dose tu wimen. I tink I'll go talk wid dem."

Ole looks and says, "Sven, yu should leave dem alone. Der lesbians!"

Sven is not deterred. He approaches the women and says, "So, girls, how are tings in Beirut?"

Adrian said...

Via an emailer:

"I am very interested in your post about joking. In many or maybe even all areas of W. Africa there is something known as a joking relationship, which is a defined way 2 people are allowed to relate to each other. Without recognition of this, their communication would be formal due to differences in class, caste, family, age or something else. It is not an inter-tribal situation, but rather occurs within a village or cohesive community. I imagine it relieves tension, just as some aspects of masquerade do. Westerners who are alarmed about Nigerien joking relationships should find out more about the very long history of this."