Monday September 24, 2018

Find Out: Taboos still exist about Yoruba Land Culture and Tradition

Located in West Africa, Yorubaland is a country of traditions and beliefs. In the community of Yoruba, various taboos exist.

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Yoruba drumming ensemble. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • 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
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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OrchKids- Bringing Joy To Underprivileged Kids Through Music

Nema was accepted into the Baltimore School for the Arts where she now studies music.

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In Baltimore, a free after school music program called OrchKids is being used as an instrument of change for children in underprivileged neighborhoods. In the past 10 years, more than 1,300 children have received free group music lessons, and free instruments, from flutes to trumpets to violins.

The program was started by Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, who said OrchKids also aims to create social change in a city where about 40 percent of the population live in poverty. She hopes that if more children of color learn an instrument that “orchestras will better reflect the diversity of our communities.”

For 15 year old Nema Robinson, OrchKids has given her more opportunities than she ever imagined. Four years ago, the quiet teenager started taking the group violin lessons and quickly progressed.

Her teacher, Ahreum Kim, grew up in Korea and studied at the prestigious Peabody Institute in Baltimore.

“Nema’s determination has helped make her a top violin student” Kim said. “OrchKids is doing a lot for Nema, by giving her confidence, the practice of being in front of an audience, and musical skills she can be proud of,” she added.

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Nema’s musical journey began when she and her mother, Susan Johnson, saw an OrchKids concert. Johnson was amazed to see black kids performing classical and opera music. “You just don’t see that,” she recalled thinking, “And I’m elbowing Nema and telling her, ‘This is what you should be doing.”

Nema enthusiastically agreed, and soon after started taking violin lessons that have given her the opportunity to play all kinds of music. She is especially proud of being a violinist in the Orchkids jazz band.

OrchKids has been instrumental in guiding many students, some from difficult backgrounds, by providing a place where they feel respected and safe.

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“Some of the students come into the class with baggage,” said Kim. “That could be due to poverty, or trouble at home. It is helpful when I learn about their families.”

Nema had a rough start in life as a drug addicted baby. With both her parents in prison, her aunt became her guardian and mother.

“She’s my number one supporter and has helped me a lot,” said Nema appreciatively. She pushes me. If it wasn’t for my mom I don’t think I would really be this good at playing the violin.”

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OrchKids has been instrumental in guiding many students.

Aside from the camaraderie and the encouragement that OrchKids provides, Nema also enjoys performing. I like seeing the audience, and their clapping and standing up after the performance,” she said. “It just makes my day.”

Thanks to her free violin lessons, Nema was accepted into the Baltimore School for the Arts where she now studies music.

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She hopes to earn a college degree in music so she can teach other black children, like herself, how to live their lives on a high note.

“It doesn’t matter what race you are, you can play music. If it’s your passion then it’s your passion,” Nema said with a smile. (VOA)