Yoruba Culture And Tradition: 10 Cultural Taboos In Yoruba Land


Every people everywhere have their cultural ways of life and what is considered normal and acceptable for community folks in those areas. The need to sanitize the society and prevent cultural abuses has led to the establishment of cultural taboos and abominations – what people in given areas must never do to keep the society going.


The Igbos, Hausas, Ibibios, Igalas, Beroms, and every tribe in Nigeria and other parts of the world have cultural taboos; the following are those of the Yorubas and what you must never do in Yorubaland:

i. Same-sex marriage is forbidden: Americans and people in Europe may have legalized same-sex marriage – that is, gay and lesbian marriages, but it is forbidden in Yorubaland. Some people in the northern part of this country have been caught in the act of sexual union between males, but such is an abomination in Yorubaland and must never be practised.

ii. A strapped baby must never fall from its mother’s back: It is an abomination in Yorubaland for a baby to fall from its mother’s back. And this is why many new mothers are warned to strap their babies firmly to their back again if their baby is not well positioned. It is believed that a male child that falls from its mother’s back will always lose his wife at adulthood, and a female will always have a lover die atop her when she grows up. And where a baby eventually falls from its mother’s back, the mother is expected to carry out some rituals to prevent evil from happening to the child when it grows.

iii. Suicide is an abomination: Committing suicide is an abomination in Yorubaland, and a dangling body must not be lowered down until some sacrifices are performed to appease the gods. Even at that, the body of such individual will be buried in the evil forest and outside town to avoid the anger of the gods. The family of an individual that commits suicide will be tainted forever in the community.

iv. Pregnant women must never walk the streets in broad daylight:What this means is that pregnant women must not go about the streets or go to the market or go to the stream when the sun is high up at its zenith – between 12 pm – 3 pm when the sun is at its brightest. It is believed that evil spirits roam the town when the sun is at its brightest and they could enter into a pregnant woman, making her to give birth to deformed babies.

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v. Whistling at night is forbidden: Men and women are not allowed to whistle at nights in Yorubaland. Whistling at nights is believed to invite demons and evil spirits into the house to torment people. Additionally, it is believed that whistling could attract snakes and reptiles into the house at night.

vi. Adultery is forbidden: It is forbidden for married women to commit adultery with another man who is not their husbands. This taboo is more critical against women than against men, so it is highly frowned upon for a wife to cheat on her husband. A man that suspects that his wife is cheating could be tempted to lace her with magun, and this would lead to the death of her adulterous lover.

vii. A king must never look inside his royal crown: It is an abomination for a king in Yorubaland to look into the inside of his royal crown. A king must wear a crown but he must never peer into it. The day he does it is the day he will join his ancestors. Kings could be allowed to do this if they insist on committing suicide.

viii. Corpse of a person that drowns must not be brought for burial at home: What this means is that the corpse of a person who dies in a river must be buried near the river, and the corpse of a person who falls from a tree must be buried at the base of the tree. Bringing their corpses home is believed to irk the gods who may cause people to die without causes.

ix. A king must never prostrate for anyone again in his entire life: A royal king is considered a demi-god in Yorubaland and he must never prostrate to greet anyone in his entire life.

x. Eating of cats, dogs, pigs are forbidden: It is generally considered unclean to consume dog meat, pork, and cat meat among others. While many Yorubas will never taste dog meat but gladly consume African rabbit (Okete), the Ondo people considers Okete an abomination but will gladly eat dog meat with relish.


Source: Nigerian Bulletin


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