Home ARTS & CULTURE Some Cultural Taboos In Igbo Land Visitors Should Avoid

Some Cultural Taboos In Igbo Land Visitors Should Avoid

by InlandTown Editor
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Taboos are used as a tool to promote moral order in society and control moral decadence.

A taboo is a strong prohibition on an action based on a cultural sensibility that perceives it as excessively repulsive, sacred, or allowed only by certain persons.

It is also defined as strong prohibitions relating to any area of human activity or custom that is sacred or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs, or culture.

 It has been deployed to displace the saying, ‘where there is no law, there is no sin’. Taboos are an important element of society and are peculiar to different societies and cultures.

However, there are cultural differences among people and societies so are taboos. What is considered sacred and sacrosanct to one society might be seen as ridiculous and outrageous to another? 

States and communities in Nigeria and other parts of Africa have varying taboos and abominations that must not be thwarted, irrespective of whether you are a stranger or indigene.  Hence, as a stranger looking to visit a town for the first time, it is important to ask questions and get yourself familiar with certain things that may be prohibited among the locals. Most travelers have often gotten themselves into trouble by defying customs and traditions peculiar to their destinations. 

As a case study, the Igbos {Ndi Igbo) from the Easter part of Nigeria hold their culture and traditions highly and no one whatsoever is allowed to show any form of disrespect to any of the cultural values. In Igbo states such as Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Delta (Anioma), Ebonyi, Imo, and Rivers, cultural taboos called ‘Nso’ are enshrined in the law of the land ‘Iwu Odi Na la’ 

These are taboos that guide the conduct of the communities. Most of these are common to the entire Igbo lands while some are peculiar to different communities. 

There are different taboos as they affect different aspects of life and culture ranging from food, marriage, days, animals, and plants, among others. 

In this article, we have highlighted some taboos in the Eastern part of Nigeria and their cultural implications. 

  •  Women are forbidden from planting, plucking, or breaking the kola nut in any ceremonial setting.  The reason for this is because of the high degree of sanctity accorded the kola nut in Igbo land, of which a high level of respect is expected to be given to it, and not because women are regarded as inferior. However, in the absence of a man in the gathering, they may break the kola nut but not with the ritualized ceremony as in general gatherings.  
  • In Imo State and Eke-Idemili in Anambra State, the killing of ‘eke’ pythons is prohibited. They’re considered to be ancestors and forefathers that died and reincarnated. If such happen by mistake, a proper burial must be done for the python or the killer face the consequences. 
  • In some places such as Enugu-Ezike, it is taboo for a married woman to have extramarital affairs and then step into the land. Such persons will run mad if they do.
  • It is forbidden in some parts of Igbo land to commit suicide. The parents/family of the person would be made to pay the fine.
  • In Umudioka in Anambra State, it is taboo to have sex with someone of the same kindred as yourself.
  • It is taboo for a new yam to be eaten before the new yam festival is celebrated.
  • Women are strictly forbidden from climbing palm trees to tap palm wine. 
  • Women are not allowed to wear masquerades because they menstruate and masquerades are sacred deity.
  • It is taboo to throw an elder to the ground in Igbo land, especially if the elder is a titled member of the Igwe’s cabinet. Before he can stand up from the ground, you must bring one cow or goat. The majority of the Igbo community still adheres to this tradition.
  • Women are not allowed to call masquerades by their names. This is regarded as disrespectful to the deities. 

Breaking these taboos comes with consequences as contained in the law of the land.

These are some of the tables peculiar to the Igbo people. Which one do you find most fascinating?

Share other taboos you know with us in the comment and also share with your network. Sharing is caring!


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