Social Studies

Harmful Traditional Practices in Nigeria

Olawunmi Omosanya - Tue, 30th April, 2019 @ 13:32: PM

Meaning of Harmful Traditional Practices:

Harmful traditional practices are those forms culturally acceptable activities (norms in tradition) committed against girls, women, infants, men and boys within certain communities and had been propagated from one generation to another. These harmful traditional practices are present in many parts of our world but our main focus will be the occurrence of these practices in Nigeria.
Harmful traditional practices in Nigeria occurred more in the past compared to what’s happening now in this modern times.

We all agree that culture is the way of life of people. It includes the dress mode of the people, how they bury the dead, their kind of food and so on. It is also true that the harmful traditional practices are originated from culture itself. Of course, culture is what defines the people but the truth is; it should never be unchangeable. Whenever a cultural practice has been identified as unhealthy and harmful, it should be done away with as soon as possible. 

Note: The focus of this article will not be specific to any particular culture or religion.

Below are some of the cultural practices in Nigeria that have been identified as harmful:

 

  • Breast Ironing

Ask any girl who have gone through this experience and they will tell you how bitter it can be. Some will jokingly say that it’s even more painful than the pains of labour. In some culture, as soon as a very young girl starts developing breast, it is believed that she will end up becoming promiscuous. If the mother or other women observed that the young girl had started developing breast, they will gather around her and use a very hot grinding stone to iron her breast in such a way that it becomes flattened. With this knowledge, some of these young girls would rather run away from the house as soon as they discover their breast development. Others will attempt to hide their growing breast by wearing big clothes, but for how long can they continue to do this?

 

  • Tribal Marks

Image Credit: True Celeb Media

Have you ever seen some scary marks on the face of certain people with regards to their culture? If yes, then this is what tribal mark is all about although it goes beyond the face. The sad part to this is that it's done on the newly born child (a boy or girl) who will grow up to live with this embarrassment, depression and disfiguration all through his or her life, depending on the complexity of the marks. The tribal marks are given by tearing up the child’s face with a sharp knife or razorblade after which some form of substance will be applied into it. The child weeps until he or she gets tired of weeping. I have read the story of a very beautiful girl who was a victim of tribal marks. She said that; “she was racially abused, depressed and embarrassed to the extent that she ruled out every option of going to the university even though she had the brains and financial capability”. At the moment, this girl has accepted it as her destiny. She is doing very fine now but nevertheless, she had vowed to do all she can to stop this evil portraying itself in the name of culture. 

 

  • Female Genital Mutilation

It sounds so strange and absurd to me that the best way to stop promiscuity in the society is through the act of female genital mutilation on a newly born girl child. This evil act requires the cutting or removal of the clitoris and labia minora (with a knife or blade or any other sharp object) in the vagina of the newly born. This is an abuse on the sexual right of any female child and as a result, its victims are unable the enjoy sexual intercourse all through their life. Accompanying this evil act are diseases like HIV, vaginal stenosis, vesico-vaginal fistula, psychological and emotional trauma and much more.

 

  • Widowhood

In some culture, it is a crime to become a widow since the discrimination and aftermath experience can be horrible. (A widow is a woman whose husband had died). The first thing that is done (from the family of the deceased husband) is an accusation that the woman is responsible for the death of her husband. This widow is forced to drink the water used in washing her husband’s corpse after which she and her children will be denied the properties of her late husband. Presenting this case before a court (by the woman) in most cases will lead to a direct endangerment of her life and those of her children. The woman becomes ostracized from the husband’s family and is allowed to go penniless. Apart from the emotional and psychological trauma accompanied with this act, drinking the water from a corpse can lead to a variety of life threatening diseases; for instance, ebola.

 

  • Child Marriage

How can a girl child who is supposed to be in a primary or secondary school be handed over to marry a much older man? This is not right in any way and should be condemned in its entire ramification. The girl child has an equal human right just as the male child or every other person. (Read our article on fundamental human rights HERE). Every female child has a right to education and a right to marry. Marriage should not be forced on anyone. In some instances, some persons have decided not to even marry because it’s their right to choose celibacy if they need to. Education remains the future and backbone of every society. An educated girl child can achieve any feat if she works hard. She can become the president of a country in the future. I can keep on writing on education but the fact still remains that; the importance of education cannot be overemphasized. Read our article on Illiteracy HERE.

 

  • Marital Flogging (Sharo)          

Is it a crime for a man to marry? According to some tradition and culture, a man anticipating marriage with his potentially beloved wife will have to undergo some merciless beatings in the name of love. Sometimes, this lover man will endure a variety of beating styles which are associated with dangerous weapons; just to prove to the woman's family that he is man enough and is ready for marriage.   

 

  • Child and Teenage hawking

Some will say “poverty is a disease” while other will affirm that “illiteracy is a disease”. Poverty and illiteracy are the major factors that bring about child hawking. Child hawking is seen when a child (between ages 5 and 17) carry some petty goods on his or her head while also walking along the streets or road to sell these goods. After the day’s job, they will remit all the sales made to their parents or guardians. It’s a pity to know that some cultures are in total support of this barbaric act. These children becomes victims of circumstances since some are killed in road accidents while others may have a part of their body amputated as a result of these road accidents. The chances of having the right to a quality education have be jeopardized by this very act of child and teenage hawking.

 

  • Native doctors appealing the gods of their land

This can come in different forms, for instance, according to some traditions, when a king dies, such king will be buried along with seven heads of innocent people with the belief that these will continue to serve him in the afterlife. In another instance, the blood of virgins may be required to appease the gods of their land as a bid to atone for a curse which may have been brought about by the sins of the people which happens to be devastating to the land.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

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