- Our parents used brilliant fables to teach us morals
- As taboos they influenced our lives in one way or the other
- Some people argue they are not relevant today
- Some taboos before our independence have served us good purpose as a people till today
Have you ever been told “don’t do this else a loved one or your mother will die” while growing up?
African as we are, once upon a time, parents and grandparents will in an apparent attempt to inculcate good social morals into children adopted the most brilliant methods to do so. They built a certain behavioral guidelines into fables and backed them with some mystic significance.
They did work and influenced our ways, especially as kids would do anything for the love of mother or their own lives.
Taboos have been part of us since time immemorial and have over the period served as man’s beliefs which have evolved into shaping his communal life.
Taboo is defined by the English dictionary as a social or religious custom, prohibiting or restricting a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.
Taboos are woven into the very essence of the African life, especially when people abhor ghosts, death, deities, evil spirits and monsters.
However, there have been divergent views of others who believe that such beliefs are outmoded and have outlived its usefulness.
They say such taboos as ‘do not sing while bathing’– is irrelevant and do not have any direct values to modernity.
People were made to believe that those who had their baths while singing could die or see a ghost. The rationale for this is to drive into people the need to put urgency into bathing when in the bathroom. This is so because; a person singing could take the whole day bathing and end up denying others the use of the bathroom. Another rational, is to prevent the ingestion of lather and other chemicals in the soap.
The deviant will tell you he or she has access to a personal bathroom and would not find the need to rush through a bathing session.
We bring you some taboos which have been relevant to the Ghanaian, pre and post independence.
It is a taboo
Going to the sea on Tuesdays:
In some communities, fishing or going closer to the sea or river on some particular days is sacred. We are told one can attract the anger of the gods who will let you drown easily. In other places, fishing in a particular part of a river is prohibited.
In Accra for instance, this has been one smart way of letting the sea rest from the bustling life of the city.
Many people attribute the value for such taboo as relevant to the water bodies and the breeding of the fishes too.
Having sex on the farm:
Having sex on the farm or in the open is a taboo the African frown on. The party involved would be attracted to evil forces around and some could even be pursued home by these jealous forces.
Really scary, huh! So we won’t do it.
Another good way to stop the youth of today from doing all sort of things. Even in the face of these mythical prohibitions, some people dare the gods and engage in sex in the open, especially at the shores of the beaches. We were told, abusers will attract ill luck and curses.
Usually those involved have their sanity questioned.
Of course yes, anyone who bumps into a couple in broad day light having sex would be alarmed and immediately shy away from such incident.
To remain seated while the elderly stands:
This taught us the value of showing respect to the elderly person. Whilst growing up, you were always impressed upon to offer a chair you occupied to an elderly person as a sign of showing respect for the aged.
Can you imagine a young guy deeply involved in a whatsapp chat and laughing loudly in the bus as an old lady stands throughout the journey! Lol!
The need to blow ones horns when you come across the river or cemetery:
They say, you might not know whether, the river goddess or a ghost is bathing its baby. So next time when you find yourself anywhere closer to such places, ‘do what the Romans do’.
The eating of cocoyam is the reserve of old women but not strong men:
They said too much of it, made one impotent. Men really stayed away. This was a fable said to have been deployed to scare away the strong men to leave cocoyam which was easily accessible by the old women in times when there were drought. The men were told to believe that cassava and the likes increased ones performance in bed.
Another smart way to ask men to work harder and leave the softer side of life for the women.
READ ALSO: Say goodbye to your ex in 5 simple ways
Men eat big meat, not women:
Women who abused this practice were seen as non-conformist who bothered the least about the authority of man in the traditional home set up. Many said the belief was many women’s way of playing romance with their husbands as such decisions boosted a man’s ego.
It is a taboo to sweep at night:
Whilst ensuring a constant adherence to time and discouraging sweeping at night, there was the need to prevent the possibility of sweeping away any valuable item, which might not be visible at night.
Sleeping with a sibling or close relative always begat curses:
Such taboos were said to prevent incest. These practices remain frowned upon in most communities till today. A married couple who are blood related could have their union nullified.
One should not talk while eating:
Eating and talking at the same time could be disastrous, as many a times people are choked. As kids, we were obviously frightened when told we would vomit blood should we eat and talk at the same time.
Of course, a restaurant full of noisy chubby eaters would really be a nuisance and really a nightmare.