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6 Strange African Customs And Traditions You Should Know

It is widely said that there are more than a hundred “uncontacted tribes” living in probably the most disconnected areas of the world. It is fascinating to note that in the civilized society we live in today, some of these tribes practice certain customs that will leave the world stunned. Here are six tribes from Africa with strange traditions:

1. Massai Tribe of Kenya:

A Massai man drinking blood

A Massai man drinking blood

The Massai tribe is found in Kenya and Tanzania and two of their customs make them enter this list of strange African tribes. The first is their greeting, member of the tribes spit as a way of saying hello. While the English man would say hello, a Yoruba man prostrate, spitting is a way of greeting. Aside playing the role of greeting, 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. It is the belief of the people that if a baby is praised, then it is cursed. Maasai warriors also spit in their hands before shaking the hand of an elder. Furthermore, the Massai tribe is also famous for its drinking of fresh animal blood.

2. Banyankole Tribe Of Uganda

ankole marriage
Banyankole marriage

In the Banyankole tribe, a minority tribe living in Uganda, marriage means quite a burden to the bride’s aunt. When a couple wants to get married, the aunt has to have s*x with the groom as a “potency test” and furthermore, she has to test the bride’s virginity.Some traditions assert that the husband would first have s*x with the aunt before proceeding to have it with the bride. Another piece of tradition says that the duty of the aunt was to prove the potency of the bridegroom by just watching or listening to the s*xual intercourse between the bridegroom and her niece.

3. Surma Tribe of Sudan and Ethiopia:

A Surma girl wearing a lip plate
A Surma girl wearing a lip plate

The people of Surma tribe are found southern Sudan as well as southwestern Ethiopia. One thing one finds fascinating about them is their interesting physical features.  During teenage years, females undergo the lip stretching procedure which involves removing their lower teeth to accommodate a lip plate; the lip plate is increased in size yearly until it is an astounding size. Not to be outdone, some of the men do this similar exercise with their ears while    the elongated lip plate gives them a fierce strange and frightening look. 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.

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4. Wodaabe Tribe of Niger:

Wodaabe Men
Wodaabe Men

The Wodaabe Tribe is a small subgroup of the Fulani ethnic group and can be found in the northern parts of Nigeria as well as northeastern Cameroon, southwestern Chad and the western region of the Central African Republic. The Wodaabe have a festival called the Gerewol Festival which calls for members of the tribe dancing at night. The dancing is not strange except for it also allows for men of the tribe to steal women from the tribe. It doesn’t matter if the woman is married or not, the tribe recognizes the new union as a legitimate marriage except on the grounds that the woman refuses or her husband catches the man while he is trying to steal the woman.

5. Chewa Tribe of Malawi:

Chewa festival
Chewa festival

The Chewa are a Bantu people of central and southern Africa and the largest ethnic group in Malawi. Internationally, the Chewa are mainly known for their masks and their secret societies, called Nyau, as well as their agricultural techniques. They however have a more interesting ritual that some people may find disturbing. It is the custom of the people that when a tribe member dies, the body is taken to a sacred place where they cut the throat of the deceased open. The corpse is then cleaned by pouring water inside the dead body and squeezed through the stomach until water comes out clean. What is most shocking of this is that they use that same water to cook a meal for the whole tribe.

6. Fulani People of Nigeria:

A typical Sharo beating
A typical Sharo beating

The Fulani traditional marriage is done in either three or two stages depending on the tribe’s requirement and preferences. There is the flogging called Sharo, Koowgal a dowry payment and Kabbal. The Kabbal is an Islamic ceremony akin to marriage ceremony but without the attendance of bride or groom. The bizarre tradition here is the Sharo which means young men ready to start a family have to prove their manhood by being whipped by older members of the tribe to earn their respect as well as get a wife. If the man is unable to bear the pain, the wedding is called off and it is disturbing to note that many young boys die during this ritual perhaps accounting for why the Sharo isn’t compulsory or recognized in certain tribes.

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Written by How Africa

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