The African society is a very spiritual and traditional one. Largely, many of the actions and inactions of the African people in their day to day activities reflect this position to a reasonable extent.
Without doubt, some of these values are embedded in different other components including superstition.
Superstition is the belief of a certain group of people. The belief may not be scientifically proven or agree with normal reasoning. In fact, it is most likely not to be true. Such beliefs are however usually held dearly and strictly adhered to such that violating any of them comes with the fear that the heaven might fall.
It is however not so. Most of the superstitions are ordinarily what any sane mind would not want to move near. To a large extent, it has been discovered that most of the so called “taboos” are to teach some moral or health lessons. They come in different ways and on different situations. Examples abound:
Never swallow the seed of a star apple: Did you ever have an adult tell you when you were a kid not to swallow the seed of a star apple? The warning is that if a kid does, then the tree would grow on his head!
Some were told the seeds would grow and burst open their stomachs. How hilarious and completely outrageous! But children who mistakenly swallow it would tremble with the fear that those terrible things he or she was warned against would happen, never minding the laws of planting..
Never sit in the doorway eating: The Yoruba would warn anyone that eating while sitting in the doorway would make one remain famished! Sitting on certain items used for cooking like the grinding stone or the mortar used to pound yam is a taboo. More than anything, eating on the doorway is a taboo to prevent the obstruction of movement in and out of the house. It is also to enable one eat without being disturbed. And for the law against sitting on mortar and grinding stone, the reason is obviously to keep those materials clean for making food.
Gizzard is preserved for whom the chicken is killed or head of the family: Only the head of the family or that special person (birthday boy or girl) for whom the chicken is killed is entitled to the gizzard. Although no penalty appears to be attached to that, no one would want to violate the rule. Also, those entitled to it would not allow anyone to usurp that right.
Never eat the chicken butt: Those who eat chicken buts would never be able to keep any secret! That is the belief. It is strictly adhered to in most homes, particularly among the Yoruba. And what is the connection between eating a chicken butt and not being able to keep secrets? The simple reason given is that the unstable nature of the chicken butt would make the mouth of one who violates the rule not to be stable. He or she is said, would always want to talk, even against his wish.
Eggs not for the children: In the old African setting, it is a taboo to give a child an egg to eat. The reason is that the child would have the tendency to steal. How do they come about this? Egg was a rarity and sweet. Giving a child to taste it would make him or her want more. And inability to provide it when needed may make the child to steal one wherever he or she finds it! It is a belief.
Drink coconut water and lose your memory: In most parts of Nigeria, children are not allowed to drink coconut water. They are told it would make understanding of what they are taught in school difficult. Better put, they would say, drink coconut water and became a dullard. Of course, that is not actually true, but in some homes, the law is still being respected.
The list is endless. And as earlier pointed out, the superstitions are largely to teach one moral lesson or the other.
What superstitions were you made to believe as a child? Bare it all in the comment section.