The 5 most weird and brutal African cultures and traditions of all time

Men fighting to impress a woman for marriage

It would take a minute for anyone to understand and agree that culture is the lifeblood of any vibrant society, expressed in the many ways we carry ourselves both individually and on communal matters. Every community of people has certain unique traditions that define and identify them.

Our traditions are a source of delight and wonder, providing emotionally and intellectually moving experiences, some pleasurable, others unsettling. Let’s have a look at the extremely unsettling ones, which appear to be very weird and brutal to human life. Here are five of the most brutal African cultures practised to date.

1. Nigeria: Wife stealing festival

Sexual liberty thrives in this polygamous Wodaabe tribe of Nigeria. If you ever heard your History teacher talking about the Fulani ethnic group, then these people are a subgroup of the Fulani.

These people consider themselves as the most beautiful people on earth. They are among the few communities in the world that allow women to marry two husbands at the same time. Yes, a woman can get married to more than two husbands here.

Wodaabe men of Nigeria
Wodaabe men of Nigeria at a wife-stealing ceremony /PHOTO COURTESY

When this much-awaited wife-stealing festival arrives, members of the community will dance at night. That same night, men are at liberty to steal women from their tribe, whether married or not. The men spend the entire day preparing themselves for the festival when they catwalk like peacocks to attract spectating women.

A woman will then choose to be stolen by a man she likes, leaving her husband behind. A woman who wishes to be stolen will wait until her favourite man passes by,  and then taps him on the shoulder. It’s done!

Something else very interesting. While some women prefer to leave their first husbands before moving in with the new catch, there are those that will prefer keeping both husbands at the same time.

beautiful fulani men
A man of the Wodaabe tribe of Nigeria /PHOTO COURTESY

Women are fully in control on matters sex in the Wodaabe tribe. To an extent that young girls are allowed to have sex whenever and with whomever they wish.

One would say that men are officially women here. For you to be a respectable man among these people, you must always have a pocket mirror with you.  And be warned! If you are an ugly husband, your woman will do anything possible to escape.

Some people have argued that this wife-stealing festival promotes promiscuity and contributes to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. But to these unique people, it as an important marriage market and a unique way of celebrating love and take pride in their beauty.

2. Ethiopia: Men fighting to win a woman

Ethiopia men fighting for women
Traditional Ethiopian men fighting to impress women for marriage. / PHOTO COURTESY

Hey! We are in 2019 when women would be happy receiving a bunch of flowers and candlelit dinners. Its also now almost law that modern day men must propose while on their knees. Not so for my sisters of the Surma tribe in Ethiopia.

Here, winning a girl for marriage is an episode equivalent to a thrilling action movie.  We are talking about brutal stick fights that injure men and leave men dead.

Before the fight begins, participants will drink more than two litres of fresh cow’s blood, drained direct into a gourd from the animal. The winners are crowned heroes and enjoy the privilege of hand picking the most beautiful girls in the village.

3. Uganda: Banyankole’s potency test

A modern marriage ceremony of the Banyankole people in Uganda / PHOTO COURTESY

In most of our African cultures, aunts play many roles in advising young nieces as they get through life stages like adolescence and marriage. During marriage preparations, it is said that you are doomed as a man if a cartel of more than three aunts to the bride gangs up against your wallet.

Welcome to Uganda. Here we find the Banayankole people, where an aunt is not only an advisor to the bride but must also have some good sex with the groom to confirm his potency. If the aunt is not this generous, she will have to watch the new couple as they engage in sexual intercourse.

If you are planning to get married to a woman from here, it’s time you familiarise with her closest aunties. Be ready for a test run. You don’t want to be shocked on that day.

Most of the modern day Ankole people are however departing from this tradition due to the alarming rates of STI’s, especially HIV/AIDS.

4. Malawi: Chewa’s festival of the dead

The Chewa people in their scary masks / PHOTO COURTESY

The Chewa community is a Bantu tribe mostly found in Malawi. If you are looking for the scariest mask, this is your best source.

During the burial ceremony of a Chewa tribe member, the body of the deceased must be washed. Washing is not the issue, but the process and the results of doing the washing.

The body is taken to a sacred place where they slit the throat and pour water through the insides of the dead.

The water is then squeezed out of the body until it comes out clean. And that is not all. The water coming out of the dead body is collected and used to prepare a meal that must be eaten by the entire community.

All this is done because the Chewa people believe that death is not natural; it is usually a result of witchcraft. The argument, therefore, is that those who might have killed a person would be scared to go to the funeral.

5. Ethiopia: Lip plates

Mursi woman wearing traditional lip plate
Mursi woman wearing traditional lip plate / PHOTO COURTESY

Body modifications for beauty are quite a common sight these days, especially among women. But take all those modifications and compare them to lip plates. Your naughty cousin seems tame.

And how is it done? Either the upper or lower lips of girls are pierced and small wooden plugs inserted into the holes. As they grow up, these holes gradually increase in size until they reach the dimensions of the large, beautiful large soup plates.

Beautiful, right? Absolutely, says the beholder.

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