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Yoruba drumming ensemble. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Taboos are developed so that there is peace and order in the society
  • The king is given the status of a demigod in the lands of Yoruba
  • Whistling attracts reptiles like snakes into the house

In order to maintain the society in acceptable ways, various practices are collectively looked down upon by the people. Taboos are developed so that there is peace and order in the society. All the communities in this world have their own social practices, customs, values and taboos. The various taboos that exist in the Yorubaland of West Africa are listed below.

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(i) Same-sex marriage is prohibited

People of Yorubaland do not practise same sex marriages. There have been instances where people have been caught in the act of sexual union of the same gender, in the northern parts of the country. However, such an act is seen as a disgrace in this community and is prohibited.

(ii) Children should never look into the eyes of the elders when they are being rebuked

It is seen as a sign of disrespect. Also, by not looking at the elder’s face, they are showing fear and respect for the elder.

(iii) Bare hands should not be used for collecting rain water

This is done to ensure accidents caused due to thunder are reduced. However, this taboo is hard to explain scientifically.

(iv) Ladies should not wear men’s clothing

This is especially relevant to trousers. It is based on traditional superstitions. This was enforced so that sanitation could be introduced in women’s dressing culture.

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(v) Pregnant women should not walk in the streets in the afternoon

It is believed that evil spirits roam the earth when the sun is at its brightest, from 12-3 p.m. If the pregnant women go to markets or streams during this time of the day, these evil spirits will enter her body, leading to the birth of deformed babies.


Map of Yorubaland, Africa. Wikimedia Commoms

(vi) Kings of the land should not peer into their crowns

If they do so, it is believed that they will join their ancestors. However, kings who insist on committing suicide can be allowed to look into the insides of their crowns.

(vii) Whistling at night is not allowed

This practice is forbidden in Yorubaland. It is believed that whistling at night acts as an invitation for the evil spirits and demons to enter the houses of people to torment them. It also attracts reptiles like snakes into the house.

(viii) Suicide is considered an abomination

In Yorubaland, a dangling corpse is not lowered, until certain rituals are performed. Also, this body will only be buried in the evil forest and the outskirts of the town, to avoid the wrath of their gods. The family of such an individual becomes tainted in the society.

(ix) A king must never prostrate again

The king is given the status of a demigod and is required to never prostrate in front of anyone.

(x) People avoid eating meats of dogs, cats and pigs

It is considered an abomination to consume the meats of dogs, cats and pigs. However, the people of the Yoruba tribe consume African rabbit and the members of the Ondo tribe consume dog meat.

-By Devika Todi, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: devika_todi

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