Africa is a wonderful continent with many distinctly unique cultural traditions. Each of these traditions symbolizes a specific aspect of life in a given community. But while many of these cultures represent the grandeur and richness of Africa, some are dangerous and retrogressive, and should, therefore, be let go.
Here are the top five most dangerous African traditions that should be dropped.
Also known as bride inheritance or widow inheritance, wife inheritance is an ancient tradition that is still being practiced in many parts of Africa. This tradition dictates that a widow must be inherited by a relative of her deceased husband, often his brother or first cousin.
This is meant to ensure the widow has someone to support her and her children and to inherit her husband’s wealth so that it remains within the family bloodline. The new husband is allowed to engage in sexual intercourse with the widow and bear children with her.
Unfortunately, this practice has become quite dangerous in this era of deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Research shows that wife inheritance is one of the main factors that contribute to the spread of HIV in Africa. Human rights activists also argue that the practice disregards the rights of women to choose their own partners.
Female Genital Mutilation
While many African countries have outlawed it, female genital mutilation (FGM) is still being practiced by many African communities. In Kenya, some communities perform FGM as a rite of passage. The practice involves cutting off of a girl’s clitoris, which leaves her with permanent vaginal deformities.
It is estimated that hundreds of girls in Africa die annually while undergoing the cut. Medical experts also claim that FGM alters a woman’s sex life and can cause serious problems when giving birth.
Sexual cleansing of young girls and widows is regarded as one of the most harmful African traditions in modern history. Unfortunately, the practice is very rampant in different parts of the continent including Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, and several others.
In Malawi, girls as young as 12 are forced to have sex with a hired male sex worker, locally known as “hyena,” as a way of initiating them into womanhood. What’s worse, these “hyenas” do not use any form of protection when performing this ritual, thus exposing young girls to deadly diseases such as HIV and early pregnancies.
New widows are also required to sleep with these “hyenas” as a way of cleansing them and protecting them from the spirit of death. This practice has obviously played a huge role in the spread of HIV.
As bizarre as it may sound, some African communities still practice ritual killing. This rite is usually performed under the instructions of a traditional chief, king, or soothsayer. In Tanzania, people with albinism are often killed and their body parts used for witchcraft.
The practice is also very common in Malawi, where some people have made a fortune selling albino body parts in the black market. Witch doctors claim to use these body parts to bring material wealth and prosperity.
Some Africans also believe that having sex with an albino helps to cure HIV. This has also contributed immensely to the spread of the virus.
Even with the advent of contemporary medicine, some African communities still rely on traditional healers who often use superstition and local herbs to treat their patients. Some communities even believe that it is taboo to be treated by a professional doctor.
Pregnant women in these communities are required to seek assistance from local herbalists and midwives during delivery. Sadly, many people end up dying due to simple complications that could easily be treated by a professional physician.