Growing up in the late 70s and early 80s, our parents and elders had different ways and measures of putting us in check. Tradition had devised a ways of curtailing our excess and making sure we grow up having the right morals and values. The truth is, we also got the best of “home-made values” that made us outstanding individuals in the society.
These “Home –made” values, superstitions as they are also known, are guided by our cultural essence and religious beliefs.
The question that arises with these “home-made taboos” is, are they really that bad? Parents made it appear that flaunting any of these rules was as good as incurring a death sentence. Some of these taboos have societal, moral and religious backings to it. Well why don’t we look at the taboos one after the other. These are the most popular ones though:
Coconut water– Knowing how much children love coconuts, especially the very sweet ones, parents still insisted they were not to drink coconut water. So, they told you if you drank coconut water, your brain cells will die and you will become a dullard… Wow!! They didn’t even try and encourage us to imbibe knowing the health benefits of drinking coconut water. I’m sure some of the best brains in Nigeria right now took coconut water as kids… Abi?
Fish eye– Eating fish is part of a steady nutritional requirement for children, but both its head and eye remains number two on our superstitions table. Why? I understand that eating fish head for kids can be dangerous because of its bony skull and all that. But the eye??? I mean it’s juicy and sweet and tender. But that was a big no no for our parents then. Wondering how many fish eyes Nigerian actor Segun Arinze had as a kid…. (Egbon just joking ooooo)
Don’t walk over a pregnant woman’s outstretched legs— Well, crossing over people’s legs is a bad manners, I mean you can just walk around the leg but not over it, a simple ‘excuse me please’ will also do the trick. Our Number three was something that has very strong religious and cultural backings to it. There was the fear that walking over the legs of a pregnant woman will cause the unborn child to look like the person after birth. Imagine if the person is perceived as ugly….
Don’t stand beside the wall when it’s raining– Yorubas believe that it’s bad to have children walking or playing in the rain. I think it was just a way of protecting them from cold and all other cold weather sickness. But leaning on a wall when it rains will incur the wrath of “Sango” to strike such person with thunder. How come I was never struck by lightning when I was a child?
Chicken head/Legs myth– It was bad enough restricting us from eating fish eye but Chicken head and legs too? This was a popular superstition especially during the Christmas/festive period, I personally think this was a selfish move of our parents not to allow us enjoy the Chicken’s head and legs. Once again the code of moral robbed us from eating the delicious chicken head.
Don’t eat Mango and drink Garri– Growing up this was perceived as a perfect home-made poison and a complete no no for the children. Not a lot of parents allow their children to take Mangos then because of the fact that they believe some of the Mangos were “forced ripened”. Then adding garri to the mix would send you to the ER. How many of you have actually survived this? Well, I did.
Not eating meat during Easter- Well, this is another festive mode superstition, according to the Christian faith it was said that after Jesus was arrested by the Roman soldiers in the garden of Gethsemane he was tried and then crucified by the Soldiers. So in honour of celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ, it is forbidden to eat any meal with “blood” during this period. So then every Easter meal comes with snails or fish and no chicken… Goshhhh!! Do they still do that now? I doubt it.
Don’t sweep the house at Night– I think it’s just dirty not to sweep your house especially at Night if it’s dirty. But growing up back then Parents believe sweeping the house at Night means sweeping away all the blessing of the family, and even when you do sweep, you were not to pour away the dirt.
Itchy Palms– Well, our number nine superstition is a common one and it holds different meaning for different people. Parents believe itchy palms means one will be blessed with money soon. Well, seems we need to ask Dangote or Otedola if they had itchy palm as kids or even now as grown-ups. If you are having itchy palms and you have no job. I pity you ooooo
Killing of wall gecko– Our last “no no” superstition was not to kill annoying wall geckos you see around the house. The penalty for killing them was to wake up and find strange markings on your body and these markings hurts when you have your bath. Now let me ask this question, wall gecko or no gecko, how do these marks get on our bodies then? This particular one still baffles me a lot.