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Strange Traditions Still Practiced In Africa

Woodabe Wife Stealing Festival
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October 30, (THEWILL) – Here are some strange traditional rites across African states that will leave you marvelling and asking questions..

Africa is heavy on bizarre practices, some of which are popular, while many others are not known to the world.

Some of these strange customs and traditions are still in existence, leaving you to wonder if the people were left behind or the idea of change does not resonate properly with them.

Festival Of The Dead – Chewa (Malawi)

The Chewa community is a Bantu tribe mostly found in Malawi.

During the burial ceremony of a tribe member, it is customary for the body of the deceased to be washed.

The corpse is taken to a sacred place where the cleansing is done by slitting the throat and pouring water through the insides of the dead.

The water is squeezed out of the body until it comes out clean. The water is then collected and used to prepare a meal for the whole community.

Sharo – Fulani (West Africa)

The Fulani tribes practice ‘Sharo’ before getting married. Here the groom is beaten by the older members of the community so as to earn a wife and respect. If the man is not strong enough to bear the pain, the wedding is called off.

Sharo wedding

Other than flogging, the bride’s family can pick ‘Koowgal’, which is a dowry payment option or the ‘Kabbal’, an Islamic ceremony similar to marriage but in the absence of the bride and groom.

 Lip Stretching – Surma (Ethiopia And Sudan)

The people of the Surma tribe are found in southern Sudan as well as southwestern Ethiopia. During teenage years, females undergo the lip stretching procedure which involves removing their lower teeth to accommodate a lip plate. The size of the lip plate is increased yearly until it reaches an astounding size.

Lip stretching
Lip stretching

Some of the men do this similar exercise with their ears. They also indoctrinate their warriors known as ‘stick fighters’ by inflicting scars on them. The belief is that the more scars they have, the more attractive they are to female members of the tribe.

Potency Test – Banyankole (Uganda)

In the Banyankole tribe, a minority tribe living in Uganda, marriage is quite a burden for the bride’s aunt.

Potency Test
Potency Test

When a couple are about to get married, the bride’s aunt has to have sex with the groom as a ‘potency test’ to certify the groom. She also has to test the bride’s virginity.

Hamar (Bull Jumping) – Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, young boys have to undergo some form of ritual to prove their manhood. This involves a series of events.

Bull Jumping
Bull Jumping

A young boy has to strip naked, run, jump and land on the back of a bull. This is then followed by running across the backs of several bulls arranged in a straight and closely-knit herd pulled by the tail and horns horns by older men. The practice is known as ‘Hamar’.

Spitting As Form Of Greeting – Maasai (Kenya and Tanzania)

The Maasai tribe, found in Kenya and Tanzania, spit as a way of saying hello.

Spitting Maasai tribe
Spitting Maasai tribe

Asides that, when a baby is born, it is the custom of the men to spit on the newborn and refer to him as bad. They believe this would protect the baby from evil spirits. Maasai warriors also spit in their hands before shaking the hand of an elder. Furthermore, the Maasai tribe is also famous for its drinking of fresh animal blood.

Wife Stealing – Woodaabe (Niger)

In the Wodaabe tribe of Niger in West Africa, men are known to steal one another’s wives. A Wodaabe’s first marriage is arranged by their parents in infancy and must be between cousins of the same lineage. However, at the yearly Gerewol Festival, Wodaabe men wear elaborate makeup and costumes and dance to impress the women, and hopefully steal a new wife.

Woodabe Wife Stealing Festival

If a man is able to steal away undetected (especially from a current husband who may not want to part with his wife), then they become socially recognised.

I know you’re thinking, these are quite barbaric, and in some instances dangerou. acts. But to these men and women, it is a way of life and thus celebrated.

Africa is indeed under-studied, I bet there are more cultures and norms the world is yet to see.