African culture is a variety of traditions, tribes, titles, hierarchies, and leadership. It is one which cannot be experienced in books or articles, with Africa made up of over 54 countries, there are a lot of stories, experiences, and documentaries to share.
There are approximately over 3,000 languages in Africa, dialects inclusive which makes one excited at the different ways of life in this continent. These make it easier to be a playground of traditions, tribes, and art which is fascinating when visitors come in contact with them.
Culture which basically is the way of life of a people can be captivating to strangers who encounter them newly; here we have curated a list of interesting African traditions that leave us in awe.
- Latuka Men Kidnap Their Brides!
The Otuho people are also known as Latuka or Lotuko, they are a Niolithic ethnic group whose home is the Eastern Equatorial state of South Sudan. They are mainly agro-pastoralists who also engage in subsistence farming.
A renowned tradition of this ethnic group is the kidnapping of their brides; here the man is laden with the responsibility of kidnapping a woman whom he dims fit to be his wife, this is done before visiting the father of the bride to be.
However, it does not end there; right after the kidnap, the acclaimed groom and elderly members of his family visits the father of the kidnapped woman to ask for her hand, if in agreement, the bride’s father is allowed to beat the groom which signifies the sacrifices he will make for the woman he loves. Additionally, if the answer is no, the groom is left with a decision to either return the bride or go ahead to marry her without the father’s blessings.
- Khweta Circumcision Ceremony — A must for every boy!
This is a South African tradition where boys are secluded and sent to a circumcision lodge as it’s called. The boys live in isolation in the winter months as they undergo difficult tests of stamina and finally circumcision. They are also taught by a lodge master about the conduct, traditions, duties, and obligations.
This ceremony is necessary as it ushers the boys to manhood and also in order to get married and be respected as a man. At the end of this ceremony which is in spring, the survivors paint their bodies white, wear sheepskin as a coat, reed skirt, a cone hat made out of reed, and a mask made out of reed in order to keep evil spirits away. Following the end of this ceremony, the costumes are burnt and the men taken to a river where they wash off the white paint.
- Bull jumping — Jump the bull
This famous ceremony is held by the Hamar tribe in South Western Ethiopia, this is a rite of passage for the young boys transitioning into manhood.
The young boys are meant to conquer their fears and get through the bravery test in order for them to be considered men. The passing of this test opens the young men to owning cattle, getting married and raising children.
This bull-jumping entails running across the backs of seven to ten castrated bulls four times without falling. Usually held in October or November, the eldest child of a family must go through this rite of passage and his readiness is decided by his father.
When the father agrees his son is ready, he hands him a small phallic carved wood called “Boko”. The boy then hands it to the girls he meets along the way and they must kiss it three times as a form of blessing and then return it to him.
- Woodabe, Gerewol — Dance for a wife
This festival is popular among the Woodabe Fula people of Niger; it is an annual courtship ritual where men ogle themselves for women who are at a marriageable age.
This festival sees young men from different clans dress up in colorful ornaments and dresses with a made-up face which comprises of clay and grounded animal bones dance and sing to get the attention of the women.
It is a week-long festival, which attracts at least a thousand visitors to the deserts. The dance is especially anticipated by the participants who take special time to get ready for it. They gather in lines while dancing and singing to vie for the attention of the young women.
At the end of the ceremony, they all return to their nomadic lifestyle with either wives or thoughts and hope on getting one during the next ceremony.
These traditions show the beauty of the African culture, their way of life and beliefs. Although most are extreme, they have come to stay and hold sway the foundation the communities and ethnic groups are found on.