Africa crowns the ‘Strangest Cultures Practiced’ category. And she shines in all her glory at having rituals that often mark the different stages of life such as birth, puberty, courting and marriage, and death.
Here are some weird practices and their importance.
1. Imagine eyeing a fine lass and you wake up one day and decide enough is enough. Guess what you could do? You could actually storm over to her father’s place, ‘kidnap’ the girl, and then let the male relatives handle any issues regarding this South Sudan courting ritual. The Latuka tribe practice bride kidnapping as part of traditions surrounding a wedding. Of course, blessings are needed from the ‘bride-to-be’ parents. But just in case they don’t agree, well, you could refuse too and make her your life partner.
2. Forget the normal handshake.Fancy a good greeting with a smoothened spat-on palm? This is a common practice between the Massai of Tanzania and Kenya who first spit in their palms as a sign of respect to their elders, and is unacceptable to offer an elder a handshake without first spitting into your hands.
Also, they spit on newborns, saying it is undesirable and bad. It is a belief that if they praise the baby, it is the same as cursing the baby.
3. Speaking of which, imagine having to kill a lion as a rite of passage. That is after having undergone a thorough beating and circumcision. This test has been practice d since their ancestors’ time so as to become a ‘moran’. This however has been discouraged as lions are on the brink of extinction .
4. For the Wodaabe people, wife -stealing dances are annual courting festivals that see the men dress up in elaborate ornaments, paint their faces and sing and dance, hoping to impress someone else’s wife.This community in Cameroon and Chad (originally from Nigeria), accept it as a completely normal feast and a husband could stop his wife from attending the Gerewol Festival.
5. The Nigerian Fulani custom on the other hand goes to the tipping end, and they attract their suitors by getting a good lashing or by fighting each other, suppose they both want the same woman.This Fulani custom called ‘Sharo’ (test of young manhood) is a way the suitor asks for a maidens hand in marriage. Their manliness is tested and those who show any sign of weakness are eliminated.
6. The Songo is a tribe in Northern Angola where being a chief involved you living and being raised by your uncle’s from around the age of five. This is believed to protect the power and pass it on in the tribe through maternal lineage.
7. The Surma tribe from Southern Sudan practice lip stretching on girls when they hit puberty and they annually extending the size of the discs.It is believed they practiced this as a form of making their young girls and women unattractive to slave traders. It primarily involves the removal of the front teeth first before slowly starting the journey.
8. Chewa, an ethnic Bantu group in Central and Southern Africa, consists of the Nyau secret society, which performs during Nyau Gule festivals.Also, when someone dies, the whole village, which is usually family, attends the funeral to eliminate members who might have caused death, via witchcraft as it was believed that the culprit would be too scared to be present. It gets pretty weird when the deceased is taken to a sacred place, slit at the throat and ‘washed’ inside with water exiting through the anus. When the water comes out clean, they would prepare a meal for the tribe.
9. Bodi, an Ethiopian tribe found in the southern part of the country practice ‘Ka’el’. This is a traditional ceremony which means the ‘the holiday of fat men’. What happens is that prior to this ceremony the people celebrate their new year at the start of June by getting an unmarried member from the 14 clans to do nothing but dring milk and blood in an attempt to fatten them for the ceremony. They are not allowed to indulge in any physical activity but are instead fed around 5-6 liters of milk. On the day of the ceremony, they appear before judges and run under the sun around a sacred tree.
10. The Hamer tribe of Ethiopia proves their manhood by first running and jumping to land precisely on a bull’s back before proceeding to run on other bulls’ backsJust as the others involving flogging and fighting and dance-stealing other people’s wives, this was considered a rite of passage that the males practiced butt-naked.