- By Hosea Namachanja
Africa is a continent globally loved for its unique wild animals, scenic mountains, blue seas, amazing lakes, archaeological sites, and, above all, its captivating culture. There are some cultures that leave people around the world in awe about how they came to be and their significance. We present some to you.
Bridegroom flogging in Nigeria
This tradition exists among the Fulani found in West Africa. The Bantu group, majorly found in Nigeria, is said to have been the first to convert to Islam in West Africa. The Fulani have rules which every one of them must follow.
These rules are found in their code of behavior called the Pulaaku. The Pulaaku details the qualities expected from true Fulani persons such as hard work, discipline, patience, respect for others and courage.
During marriage, the occasion involves a ceremony called Sharo, where the strength and endurance of a suitor are tested through flogging. On a festive day, suitors take turns flogging each other on the back about 20 of them or more until one bows down to claim defeat.
Bowing down would mean that the contender loses and is considered unfit to be a husband. The winner is usually the one who is able to withstand the pain without retreat and it is whom the girl is given to be his wife.
Cattle jumping in Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, there exists a community called the Hermit. The Hermit practices cattle jumping, which is a rite of passage to show that the young initiates are ready for marriage.
During cattle jumping, the initiate is shaved to the middle of his head by a group of men known as the Maza. He is then rubbed with sand to ‘wash away his sins’ and smeared with dung for strength. Strips from tree barks are then strapped around his chest. This serves as spiritual protection.
The initiate crosses over 7 to 10 castrated bulls rubbed with cow dung to make their backs slippery. Failure to successfully walk over the bulls brings shame to the initiate and his family.
The initiate would then have to wait till the following year. But if he succeeds, he is set to get married to a girl his family chooses for him, have children and cattle.
In the course of the initiation, the female relatives of the boy, including the mother and sisters, are flogged with canes as a show of support. They beg the Mazas (the men that have undergone the bull-leaping ritual) to flog them. Until their backs bleed.
During the flogging, not a single weeping sound or cry is made. This whipping is used to create a form of debt. The loyalty the girls showed is demanded back in times of need.
Potency testing in Uganda
This is traditionally and typically practiced by the Banyankole people of Uganda. On a traditional wedding occasion, the bride’s aunt has sex with the bride’s groom to know his potential on bedroom matters.
To some extent, the bride’s aunt sits in a room where the two newly weds are and watches or listens to how virginity is broken or sex is performed. The bride’s aunt does this to ensure her niece gets married to a sexually satisfying husband.
Corpse cleaning in Malawi
If you think you’ve seen it all or heard enough, this is the whacky and most bizarre one. We are used to less scary ones of using a handkerchief or a ragged piece among the Luhya community in which the handkerchief is soaked in mid-temperature water and massaged the corpse as cleansing but, wait!
Traditionally, the Chewa people of Malawi, despite being known for their masquerade masks of animals and costumes, have a witty way of cleansing corpses.
Culturally, when someone dies and it is one day to burial, the old in masqueraded masks take the corpse to a sacred place and slits an entry at the throat then pour water through the hole as they sway the copse until it gets out through the anus.
The process is done severally until clean water comes out. To leave you surprised, some of the filtered water is used in preparing meals as a cultural community bond. They wear masqueraded masks to link themselves with ancestors and also, as a symbol of death related to Satan.
Lip plates/ lip plugs in Ethiopia
These are worn by the Mursi and Surma women in Ethiopia at the starting age range of 15 to 16 years. When a girl reaches age, a specialized old woman from the community is called to cut her upper lip and insert a wooden plate into it. The plate is made up of wood or clay about 4 cm to 5 cm long.
For a proper lip plate to fit, 2 to 4 teeth are removed from the mouth. This is done to show the girl is ready for marriage and also, a sign of bravery, perseverance and a rite of passage.
There are claims that they make women more beautiful. The larger the plate, the higher the bride price.
The plates are usually worn by women on special occasions such as weddings, traditional ceremonies and when serving husbands meals.
Despite that, there exist some myths about the plates. It is believed that during the colonial slavery period, the communities started the tradition to make their women ugly and unattractive before the Europeans to evade slavery and moreover, to make them unique from other communities. Lip plates acted as a protection of women from other tribes not to snatch them from their men.
Thanks for choosing WKT. Advertise with us for affordable offers.