Rituals are part and parcel of the African culture. They are symbolic of different aspects in life. Some may signify achieving a new social status; others signify moving into a new age group, while some welcome a new visitor or a newborn to the community. Well, here is a list of the most dangerous.
Warning: Some of the images on this post may be distressing.
1. Sooth Saying-Puff Adder In mouth
In the Zulu community in South Africa, a traditional healer locally known as a “Sangoma” relies on his trusty puff-adder to make predictions as well as heal. He may at some point place it in his mouth or near the person seeking healing. In case his faithful serpent has a change of heart, no one would wish to imagine what would happen.
2. Maasai Moran
The Maasai is one of the communities in Kenya, in order to be respected and acknowledged as a man, you first have to attain the title “Moran.” To do so, a young man is expected to go out in the jungle and hunt down a lion. This feat can only be accomplished by using a spear and not the fancy gun.
3. Traditional healing/Wichcraft
Traditional healers and medicine men hold a special place in many African cultures. People will opt to seek medicinal and divine intervention from them rather than from a clinic, dispensary, church, or hospital. When visiting one, a person may be asked to come back with eggs of a snake, or crocodile. Some will even ask for the fangs, claws or teeth of a dangerous creature.
4. African Bull Fighting
Bullfighting is more famous in countries like Spain and Mexico more than it is in Africa. Unknown to many people, African communities have always followed this practice. Unlike their western counterparts, there is no security provided nor paramedics around. Many people have died or been maimed during the ceremony. The ritual is popular among the Luhya tribe in Kenya.
5. Wife Inheritance
Many African communities still practice wife inheritance. The brother to a dead person is allowed to inherit his sister-in-law. This is done as a way of ensuring the clans remain tightly bonded. Unfortunately, this has contributed to the spread of HIV/AID, as well as disregard to human rights.
6.Lip plate Insertion
This is a practice common with Ethiopian Suri tribe. The process of lip plate insertion begins after puberty has been reached. It involves two of the girl’s bottom teeth being removed during an intense ritual, then a small hole being cut into her bottom lip. After the hole has been inserted, a clay disk is put into it, which stretches the lip. The plate is increased in size annually The significance of the lip plate is great. The larger it is, the more cows the girl’s father can demand from another man in exchange for her hand in marriage. The standard price is 40 cows for a small plate and 60 cows for a larger one.
7. Ritual Killing
Ritual killings have always been performed in African cultures. This may be under the direction of a king or soothsayer. To date some communities still follow this practice. They will target a specific tribe or a unique person. For instance, in Tanzania, Albinos locally known as “zeruzeru” are captured and killed as a way of seeking material wealth.
8. Forced Marriages
This practice is common in many parts of Africa. Often parents will keep the details of the marriage hidden for fear that their daughter will run away if she finds out about the deal they have made. As part of the ritual, which lasts a day and night, the village men will also select a bull from the herd of cows which the women will punch into submission before it is executed with a spear-thrust to the heart. Many of the girls will be as young as 14, and though forbidden by the law strict adherence to tradition is considered more important than complying with the law.
9. Blood Beverage
The Maasai community in Kenya and Tanzania is amongst the most hospitable communities. They always look forward to receiving any visitor. Apart from offering you roasted meat, you may be required to drink fresh blood oozing from a live animal or mixed with some milk. An arrow is shot at close range to puncture the jugular vein of the cow and the blood is drawn into a skin gourd. The Maasai drink cows blood that they believe makes the body stronger and warmer and is good for children and the elderly to build up their strength. This is a form of clinical vampirism, one would argue, but shouldn’t they be wary of zoonotic diseases they could contract if the animal was sick or perhaps iron poisoning?
10. Ritual Sex Practices
The Baganda form one of the largest ethnic communities in Uganda. Among their many rituals, there is one that is classified as quite risky especially in the modern world. Occasionally, the community will hold dances and rituals to mark entry into adulthood. Young men are allowed to engage in penetrative sex with different girls. This has been a leading cause of the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region.
11. Male Circumcision
Like many regions in the world, Africans also practice male circumcision. This ceremony is normally done to signify a boy becoming a mature adult. Usually, the young boys will be circumcised with a knife without application of any anesthetic & are often beaten if one dares to cry during the ordeal to ‘toughen them up. Furthermore, the newly circumcised spends time out in the forest to test his courage.
12. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Women also get circumcised in some cultures in Africa. Unlike the male procedure where it is the foreskin that is chopped off, FGM is a bit inhumane .It may entail clipping the clitoris and much more. Cases of girls bleeding to death or permanent damage have always been witnessed. This is why the practice has been banned in most parts of Africa.
13. Beating the suitor
Beating the suitor The Fulani tribe live in many countries in West Africa and follow a tradition called Sharo. Sharo happens when two young men want to marry the same woman. To compete for her hand, they beat one another up. The men must suppress signs of pain and the one who takes the beating without showing signs of pain can take the wife.
14. Kidnapping your bride
In the Sudanese Latuka tribe, when a man wants to marry a woman, he kidnaps her. Elderly members of his family go and ask the girl’s father for her hand in marriage, and if dad agrees, he beats the suitor as a sign of his acceptance of the union. If the father disagrees, however, the man might forcefully marry the woman anyway.
15. Bull jumping
In order to prove their manhood in the Ethiopian Hamer tribe, young boys must run, jump and land on the back of a bull before then attempting to run across the backs of several bulls. They do this multiple times, and usually in the nude.
16. Wife Swapping
Wife swapping among Namibia’s nomadic tribes has been practised for generations. The practice is more of a gentlemen’s agreement where friends can have sex with each others’ wives with no strings attached. The wives have little say in the matter, according to those who denounce the custom as both abusive and risky in a country with one of the world’s highest HIV/Aids rates. Those practicing it contend that their age-old custom strengthens friendships and prevents promiscuity. Swinging with an African tribal touch huh?
Known as okujepisa omukazendu – which loosely means “offering a wife to a guest” – the practice is little known outside these reclusive communities, whose population is estimated at 86 000.
Mainly found in the north-western Kunene region near the Angolan border, the communities are largely isolated from the rest of the country. They have resisted the trappings of modern life, keep livestock, live off the land and practice ancestral worship.
17. Living with wild animals
The Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania have strict policies against killing wild animals. They keep cattle and livestock, but leave wild animals untouched. In fact, each clan is associated with a specific wild species, which they often keep close to them and treat as a clan member.
The following two may not be dangerous, but they are quite bizarre
12. Dancing With The Dead
Believe it or not, the Malagasy of Madagascar take out the dead from the graves and jive with them. The belief behind this ritual called Famadihana is that the spirit of the deceased joins the ancestors after the body has decomposed. The celebration is often held once every seven years and is a time of joyous family reunions.
13. Fantasy Coffins
Residents of Teshi (Ghana), a Accran suburb bury their dead in fantasy coffins. The casket often represents the profession of the deceased. Giant replicas of coke bottles, fruits, cars or gadgets are displayed in coffin showrooms.