5 Most Weird Nigerian Cultural Practices and Traditions

Nigeria is a West African country with a rich cultural heritage. However, some of their cultural practices can be considered weird particularly in this modern era. As much as Nigerians might consider these practices as benign and a way of preserving cultural values and norms, people from other parts of the world may see them as outright outrageous and strange. Below is a look at 5 weird Nigerian cultural practices among the various tribes of the nation’s society.

The Magun

Despite westernization, adultery in the Nigerian society is immensely frowned upon. The punishment for such an offense may vary with each community in the country, but adultery’s punishment is never palatable. During biblical times, the punishment for such a crime was stoning to death in public. However, the result could equally be death in south-western Nigeria by a juju referred to as Magun. The Yorubas do not entertain adultery and have developed a powerful juju to deal with it. The Magun is feared by the Nigerian society and is usually placed on the body of a married woman by her husband without her being aware. Should the woman commit adultery, the male offender is placed in jeopardy by certain death through the Magun. The male perpetrator either dies in the act or afterward through some other means or by an insatiable taste. In addition, the juju does not take ignorance into consideration in that it does not matter whether the male perpetrator knew the woman was married or not.

Witch Hunting

Some people may think that witch hunting is long gone with history. This is wrong assumption since witchcraft and witch-hunting is still being practiced among the Edos of Nigeria’s middle belt. In fact, the Edo state is considered Nigeria’s center for practicing witchcraft and witch hunting. If a man or woman is suspected of practicing witchcraft, as evidenced by either strange occurrences or deaths within the immediate extended family or community, the suspect is taken to a witch doctor. However, prior to arriving at the witchdoctor’s place, he or she will be flogged, and the devil beans poured on their hair. These are a special kind of African beans known to cause intense itching. The suspect will undergo all kinds of untold torture in order to force the truth out of them, usually ending up confessing. The witchdoctor further enforces such confessions, and if the suspect is eventually found guilty of practicing witchcraft, he or she is excommunicated from the community.

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In traditional Nigerian society, the issue of family inheritance is a matter of great magnitude. The will of a deceased person does not come into play, with the first male child inheriting everything. Such a child can then allocate some properties or land to his younger brothers if he so wishes. A female child or children have no say whatsoever in the traditional Nigerian society when it comes to inheritance. The first male child can excommunicate siblings and family members from the homestead if he so wishes, hence making claim to all known properties.

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The Osu Caste System

This is one of the strangest and most noticeable weird Nigerian cultural practices of the Igbo people in south-eastern Nigeria. An Osu is a person who, along with his generation, has been dedicated to an idol. It is a kind of an accursed system whereby the so-labeled Osu is discriminated against. Together with his family, an Osu is usually exempted from most of the community’s activities, and cannot marry the free-born. Should a free born go against the tradition and marry an Osu, such an individual becomes an Osu automatically. In spite of the advent of Christianity, this Osu caste system is still adhered to and quite prevalent. While some have braved the consequences and consorted with the Osu, most people tend to avoid such unions due to the social stigma and discrimination that comes with it.

The Nwaboy or Servicehood Phenomenon

Lastly on this list of the weird Nigerian cultural practices is the Nwaboy or servicehood custom which might sound strange to people from the western world, but not the case among the Igbos. The custom dates back to the biblical story of Jacob serving Laban for over a decade to marry Leah and over another decade to marry Rachel. Apparently, the Igbos believe they are Jacob’s original descendants and still practice this belief. However, instead of getting a wife, the servant or Nwaboy serves a master in return for a settlement, usually in the form of a supermarket, electronics, or a car spare part shop. In the course of this period, the servant acts as the master’s protégé to learn how to manage the business.


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