Strange African Culture/Facts You Never Knew Existed

To some people, Africa is a continent full of mysteries. Interestingly, there are a lot of things relatively unknown about Africa- the world’s largest black continent and home to over a billion people.

While some of these weird African facts/culture might sound unbelievable or impossible to the well-educated or elites; truthfully, some can be explained while some are impossible to fathom. Most bizarre cultures/facts are products of nature or teachings passed down from generations which still exist till this present age. It’s therefore no surprise that Africa has its fair share of unusual, strange, and weird cultures, customs, objects and formations. Nitestay brings to you the list of strange African facts and cultures you never knew about.

1.) Swim with the whale sharks in the Gulf of Tadjourah

In the months of October to January, don’t be surprised to find locals swimming with the whale sharks in the Gulf of Tadjourah located in the Indian Ocean near the western end of the Gulf of Aden. The reason for this can be attributed to the change in ocean currents and high population of planktons in the area during this season.

2.) The world’s biggest frog is from Cameroon

Known as Goliath Frog and world’s largest species of frog on earth, the world’s biggest frog can grow up to 33 cm in length apart from the legs which can also be up to a foot long when extended.

3.) Taking pictures

The first rule to note is that the Tanzanian government considers taking pictures of structures such as government buildings, bridges, and military personnel as illegal.  While this rule might be applicable in most African countries, there’s another weird fact attached to taking photos in Tanzania.

For instance, it’s advised that you seek permission before taking another person’s picture.  This is attributed to natives’ beliefs about taking pictures. Some might go as far as asking you for payment (money) before taking their pictures. Other tribes such as the Massai people believe that taking pictures means stealing their souls.

4.) Masaai Tribe, Kenya

The Massai tribe can be found in Kenya and Tanzania. And they sure do have some strange customs that will leave you shocked! One of such is their mode of greeting.  Members of the tribe spit as a way of saying hello. Aside this, when a baby is born, it is the custom for men to spit on the newborn and label him as bad in order to ward off evil spirits.

The tribe believes that a baby is cursed or become cursed if it is praised.  Massai warriors can also be seen spitting in their hands before shaking the hands of an elder. Additionally, they are also famous for drinking fresh animal blood.

5.) Hamar Tribe, Ethiopia

To prove your manhood as a young boy in the Hamer tribe, it is expected that you run, jump and land on the back of a bull, before then attempting to run across the backs of several bulls while naked.

Before this ritual takes place, female friends of the young boy undergoing the test must cover their whole body, including their head and hair, with red ochre mixed with fats.  The girls are then expected to dance and get whipped by elders until they have scars and wounds on their backs. This is done to show their unflinching loyalty to their friend.

6.) Banyankole Tribe, Uganda

The Banyankole tribe is a minority tribe in Uganda. And the mention of marriage is definitely a burden to the bride’s aunt. When a couple is about to get married, custom dictates that the aunt of the bride sleeps with the groom to ensure the potency of the groom. Furthermore, she also has to test the bride’s virginity.

Some traditions claim that the group must have sex with the aunt before sleeping with the bride. Another tradition asserts that it was the responsibility of the aunt to prove the potency of the groom by watching or listening to the couple while they’re having intercourse.

7.) Widowhood among the Igbos - Nigeria

It is a common custom among the Igbos to find widows subjected to humiliation to prove that she had no hand in her husband’s death. The widow is subjected to punishments such as forcing her to drink the water used in washing her husband’s corpse, shaving off her hair, amongst them.

8.) Sharo Festival, Fulani Tribe – Nigeria

Sharo means flogging. Sharo festival is conducted among the Fulanis of Nigeria to prove that a young man is ready to take on the responsibility of having a bride. The young man is continuously flogged by another man referred to as “the challenger”. He is expected not to show signs of pain as this is to test his level of endurance and perseverance.

If the young man is unable to withstand the pain, the wedding is called off.

9.) Chewa Tribe, Malawi

The Chewa are the largest ethnic group in Malawi and are of the Bantu people of central and southern Africa. Internationally, the tribe is famous for their masks and secret societies called Nyau, and their agricultural methods.

That aside, they have a ritual that most people find disturbing. When a tribe member dies, it’s the custom of the people to take the body to a sacred place where the throat of the dead is cut open. The deceased is then cleaned by pouring water inside the dead body and squeezed via the stomach until the water that comes out of the corpse is clean. However, the most shocking part of the ritual is that water used to clean the corpse is used to cook a meal for the entire tribe.

10.) Images of fish for protection against evil –Tunisia

In Tunisia, it is common to find new buildings embedded with fish bones or fish tails while construction takes place. Cars are also not left out of this strange custom. Brightly coloured fishes in form of plastic or clothes are attached to cars. This is done to provide protection to passengers.

11.) Wodaabe Tribe, Niger

The Wodaabe tribe is a sub-group of the Fulani ethnic group and can be found in Northern Nigeria, as well as Northeastern Cameroon, Southwestern Chad, and the western part of the Central African Republic.

The Wodaabe Tribe has a festival known as the Gerewol Festival where all members of the tribe are expected to dance at night. The strange part of the festival is that the dancing allows men of the tribe to steal women from the tribe.

The tribe considers the new union legitimate whether the woman is married or not.  Exceptions apply to situations where the woman refuses or when her husband catches the man while he is trying to steal his woman.

12.) The Evil Eye -North Africa

The origins of the “evil eye” can be traced to North Africa and the Mediterranean region of Africa.  It is popularly believed that the “evil eye” wreaks havoc or causes bad luck especially when a person is sick or vulnerable.  Therefore, to ward off this problem, it is common to find various African tribes taking various measures to avoid the evil eye. For instance, in Morocco, men and boys are seen decorating the backs of their cloaks with bright red eyes to reflect back and cast off the look and power of the evil eye.

What Africa culture do you know that exists and you think is strange?

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