Arts and Culture

10 Strange Cultural Taboos in Yorubaland

Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria holds a strong belief in their culture and traditions amongst which there are several cultural taboos or superstitions as the case may be. Several information is being passed on to the younger by the elderly ones on how things should be. Most of these cultural taboos are as a result of an event in the past or a way of making the people to be cultured.

Cultural Taboos

Cultural taboos vary in different places. They are implicit prohibition on something based on a cultural sense that it is excessively repulsive or, perhaps, too sacred for ordinary people. They are meant to protect the human individual, but there are numerous other reasons for their existence.

A taboo acknowledged by a particular group or tribe (like the Yoruba people here) as part of their ways, aids in the cohesion of the group. It helps that particular group to stand out and maintain its identity in the face of others and therefore creates a feeling of belonging.

The belief of Yoruba people on Cultural taboos

The Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria holds cultural taboos in high esteem. The people don’t take their culture and traditions for granted. Cultural taboos even differ from community to community in Yorubaland. They are being taught by the aged and elders mainly to protect individuals as a result of their past experiences or to make the younger ones desist from negative things that can affect on the whole community. Some of these taboos are put in place to protect the age long traditions.

Here are 10 cultural taboos in Yorubaland:

Although the list of cultural taboos in Yoruba land are numerous, I bring to you 10 of these taboos that are very strange.

  • Sitting on a Mortar: Mortars are used by the people in preparing some of their favorite dishes such as pounded yam, fufu and so on.  A serious warning is then given not to sit on this mortar. This is practically used as a means of hygiene. It is therefore used as a taboo to strike fear into the hearts of the people.
  • Killing of vulture: This scavenging animal is not common in most of the places. There is a serious warning that this bird that feeds on dead animals shouldn’t be killed. It is well said that anyone that kills a vulture will die when they do that.
  • Carrying a ladder on shoulders: In some places in Yoruba land, carrying a wooden ladder on the shoulder symbolizes a coffin. So for evil not to prevail, it is a taboo to carry a ladder just like undertakers who carry coffin on their shoulders during burial.
  • Collecting rain with the hand: Children most especially are warned not to collect rainwater by spreading their hands in the downpour. It is even said that thunder can strike one down if it is done. This is actually used as a step to personal hygiene.
  • Talking while removing chicken feathers: The outer coverings of a bird while it is being removed after killing is said to increase if you continue to talk while removing. The elderly ones make sure that the kids keep their mouths shut while they do. This is basiclly to improve speed and efficiency while at it.
  • Beating a male child with a broom: This is a common taboo. They say if you beat a male child with a broom, his sexual organ will disappear. This is just a devise used to protect the child from physical abuse. But, why just the male child though?
  • Pregnant woman walking in a sunny day: It is also a taboo for a pregnant woman to roam about in the hot sun. it is the belief of the Yoruba people that demons roam about at this time of the day. It is believed that the unborn baby or the mother can be possessed by these demons. This is also used as a form of protection for the pregnant woman. Don’t we all need a little extra ray from the sun?
  • When you see a grass cutter in the day: It is not a good omen to see a grass cutter (bush meat) in the day. It is the belief that trouble or evil looms to a relative of the person that sight this animal during the day.
  • When a dog/cat cries: It is seen as a bad thing for a dog or a pussy cat to cry. They are believed to be closer to the spirit so when they cry, it shows that death comes quickly to the relative of the owner. The people believe that once this animal is killed, the evil will be averted.
  • When a King look into his crown: It is a taboo for a ruling king to look into his own crown. This is the reason why kings don’t remove their crowns by turning it upside down. This is a letter to death as the people belief.

Let’s have your feedback by sharing with us the cultural taboos in your place. You can also help to add to the list through the comment section. Thanks for reading this piece.

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