Africa is a land of many diverse people with over 3000 distinct ethnic groups speaking over 2000 languages. Therefore there are several cultural practices in the many different ethnicities with some been interesting, some quite awkward, some funny and some just plain ridiculous. Here are some of these cultural practices. However with the effect of colonialism and modernization, most of these traditions have been reduced or even stopped completely.
- Checking a Bride’s virginity
The Yoruba tribe in Nigeria in years past had a culture where a newly married groom is expected to have sex with his wife while his family members wait at the door of the room of the couple. The groom is expected to come out with a blood stained bed spread as proof that the bride is a virgin. If the bride does not pass the test, a half boiled/half roasted yam is sent as a message to her family signifying that their daughter has been defiled before marriage and she will be continuously shamed by the groom’s family. This practice was put in place to stop or reduce promiscuity among young ladies.
- Paying a price for the Bride
In many parts of Africa, money is usually paid to a bride’s parents by the man intending to marry her. It is popularly called “Bride Price” and is practiced by several African ethnic groups. The groom is usually given an amount of money to pay which can be negotiated downwards, the bride price also includes several food items and drinks such as kolanuts, yams, alcoholic wines and spirits, etc. In South Africa, the practice is known as Lobola.
- Stretching of lips of females
In the Surma tribe of South Sudan, as soon as a girl attains maturity i.e. puberty, she will have to start stretching her lips, her bottom teeth are also removed to create space to put a lip plate.
- Bride Kidnapping
In Sudan, men of the Latuka tribe kidnap a woman when they want to marry her. After the kidnap, his family members go to the girl’s family and ask for her hand in marriage. If the girl’s father agrees, he show acceptance by beating the suitor and if he disagrees, the suitor might still marry the woman forcefully.
- Bull jumping
In the Hamer tribe of Ethiopia, young boys prove their manhood by running, jumping and landing on the back of a bull and afterwards attempt to run on the back of several bulls. This process is repeated several times and the boys are usually naked.
- Spitting blessings
In the Kenyan and Tanzanian Masai tribe, spitting is considered a blessing. Newborn babies are spit on by men, the men also say bad things to the child because they believe that if they praise a the child, curses will come upon him or her. Their warriors also greet their elders by first spitting in their own hands before shaking the elder.
- Suitor Beating
In the Nigerian and Nigerien Fulani tribe, young men who want to marry a woman must compete for her in a competition called “Sharo”, they must beat each other up with bamboo sticks and must not show signs of pain. The suitor who shows less pain is given the girl to marry..
- Teenage Boys Circumcision Ceremonies
This tradition is quite popular across Africa, young boys who attain puberty are usually put through rigorous risky tests and rituals for weeks to prove their manhood. The tests usually end in circumcision of the boys and a ceremony welcoming them into manhood. The practice is called Khweta in South Africa.
- Wearing of Veil by Grooms
In Algeria, the Berber speaking Ahaggaren Tuaregs have a culture where the men wear veil about at all times except when they are inside their family houses or when traveling.
- Cannot marry till an elder sibling is married
In the Igbo tribe in Nigeria, families believe that marriages must be done in order of seniority. The eldest children must marry first before any younger child. Many people who fall victim to this culture either postpone their marriages or go on without their family’s blessings.