Africa, the second largest continent on the planet, is home to many unique customs unknown to the rest of the world.
Some of these traditions are as old as time itself and have outlived many generations, persisting for a very long time after civilisation.
Africa’s rich history and culture are so diverse that it varies not only from one country to another but also within regions and countries.
Below are some strange traditions within the African continent:
1. Potency test among the Banyankole tribe
Marriages are perceived as an unimaginable burden for the bride’s aunt within this small tribe in Uganda. As a result, the groom is required to experience coitus with the bride’s aunt before the pair gets married as a “potency test”. The aunt is also required to check the bride’s virginity.
2. The Fulani’s ‘Sharo’ tradition
This traditional practice is well known among the Fulani, a semi-nomadic pastoralist ethnic group in Nigeria. It is known as Sharo and is performed prior to marriage. It entails older members of the community severely beating the groom. As a result, he gains approval and is able to marry the woman. If the groom is unable to bear the pain of the flogging, the wedding is called off. Worse, the dowry payment is reversible.
3. Chewa’s festival of the dead
The Chewa are a Bantu tribe from Malawi. When a tribal member dies, the members wash the body according to tradition. The body is then taken to a holy place for a purification ceremony. To clean, the throat must be cut and water must be poured through the corpse. The water is passed through until it is clean. It is then collected and used to prepare a feast for the entire neighborhood.
4. Stealing of wives
The Woodaabe tribe of Niger practices unsettling wife exchanging, which most people consider to be wife snatching. Their parents arrange their first marriage when they are very young. These unions typically involve cousins from the same family. Then there are the annual celebrations, when the Wodaabe males dress to impress (as seen in the image above), dance, and try to find a new wife. If a man can take a wife without being discovered, he gains social standing.
5. Mursi girls’ lip plates in Ethiopia
Women in the majority of African tribes wore lip plates. With the exception of the Mursi tribe in Ethiopia, it seems to have disappeared over time. A Mursi girl’s bottom lip is chopped when she turns 15 by her mother or an elderly woman. The injury is then supported for three months as it heals using large earthenware or wooden plates. It’s a matter of personal preference if one gets their lips pierced, although many young women favor lip plates.