Women in Africa – top 7 most shocking traditions

Women in Africa – TOP-7 most shocking traditions

Women in Africa live quite differently than in Europe or in America. Some African tribes have really shocking traditions about women…

Countries and cultures differ greatly around the world. And what is typical and quite acceptable in a certain culture can completely be shocking and forbidden in another one.

African countries take the leading role in their ability to shock with their rituals and customs. Especially it is true about African women. “How much does a good wife cost?” This question is not something shocking for women in Africa as normally parents are the ones who negotiate the terms of a marriage.

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In fact, women in some regions of Africa do not possess any rights, only numerous commitments. That is why when a man decides to take a few more wives, an African woman only welcomes this initiative as this means she will share her household chores with other women. This and other not less shocking traditions will be highlighted in our article below.

7. Lip plate decorations as a symbol of beauty

One of the most well-known tribes in Southern Africa is the Mursi tribe from the isolated Omo valley. It is so famous due to the unusual appearance of its women, who wear the lip plates.

Women in Africa – top 7 most shocking traditions

At the age of 15 or 16 the lip is cut, and two front teeth are pulled out, and then a disk or a plate is inserted. The size of the disk is increasing with the age and the bigger the plate the woman wears the bigger bride wealth will be paid by her husband’s family. Sometimes this plate can reach 12 cm in diameter. But it is up to a girl to decide how far to stretch the lip (Source).

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This ritual though shocking has a protective implication and dates back to the slavery times. The matter is that slave-traders took the strongest and the most beautiful women in those times, so African women of the Mursi tribe decided to disfigure themselves in order to stay on their homeland.

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Now, lip plate decoration is used for decorative purposes and is a sign of attractiveness and striking beauty.

6. Neck rings as a matter of status and wealth among the women in Africa

An elongated neck is considered to be the chief attraction among women of the South Ndebele people. It shows both beauty and wealth. A girl can start wearing neck coils at as early as 2 years old. The first coil is usually a gift from her father.

Women in Africa – top 7 most shocking traditions

In the course of time the girl adds the neck coils. Sometimes it is possible to encounter women in Africa having 6-8 kg of neck coils on the shoulders. It is widely believed that the more the neck coils an African woman has the more loved and respected she is by her husband (Source).

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Women in Africa cannot take off these neck rings, they are with them forever. An interesting fact is that a popular belief of African women that these rings make their necks longer is not justified. Moreover, wearing these rings for a long time can result in suffocation, tumors, cancers and even death as they create enormous strain and really harm the muscles of the neck and shoulders. So beauty has its price!

5. Severe fights for an African bride

There is a very interesting but a little cruel tradition in some African regions – when two men cannot share a woman, they start fighting. They fight for their love. Sounds quite romantic, but there are some pitfalls…

Women in Africa – top 7 most shocking traditions

The fight is so cruel that the blood is everywhere. The winner is the man who does not show the signs of pain. He receives the main prize – the woman of his dreams. Naturally the woman’s desires are ignored and very often such violent fights lead to the death of one of the cavaliers which is also quite upset.

4. Sexual traditions

For tourists, African sexual traditions concerning women in Africa can be rather shocking, if not to say horrifying. Some tribes can be so hospitable to tourists as they even do not mind sharing their wives to satisfy the guest.

Women in Africa – top 7 most shocking traditions

According to another tradition in West Africa, a man, for instance, must buy a bride from his mother-in-law. At the first glance, there is nothing strange about that. But the groom must satisfy his mother-in-law, and she is the one who decides “the duration” of the sexual redemption.

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In Kenya, anyone can “check” the innocence of a bride before the wedding, and she should not express any objections or dissatisfaction (Source).

In Tanzania, women steal the most valuable things from men – footwear and hoes. Of course, this is an intricate part of the seduction. The women know that the men will surely come to pick up their possessions, so they are fully ready to use their chance.

3. Polygamy and incest as a norm in Egypt

Polygamy is not something extraordinary in Egypt. Here, men can marry a foreign woman while having an Egyptian wife or a few and children. But the most shocking thing is that incest is considered to be a norm. Every fifth man is married at least his cousin sister.

2. Women in Africa and circumcision

One more horrifying ritual in African countries is female genital cutting. This terrible procedure is a common practice throughout African countries, and normally 10 years old girls are exposed to this vandal procedure. In Egypt, for example, despite the prohibition female circumcision is done illegally in anti-sanitary conditions which often results in diseases and even death.

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Why is it done? Most people from African countries say it is just a tradition. And if a girl is not mutilated, no one will want to marry her. So they claim it is a small price for a marital status (Source).

1. Nakedness in Ancient Egypt

These days, people are ashamed of being seen naked. They cover their bodies with clothes. But in Ancient Egypt, nakedness was not something people were ashamed or afraid of. For instance, men and women in Africa (namely in Egypt) worked absolutely naked in agriculture. What is more, wealthy Egyptians also enjoyed showing their bodies in public and boasting their physiques.

Women in Africa – top 7 most shocking traditions

Rich women wore dresses made of absolutely transparent material, emphasizing the beauty and shapes of their bodies. For a long time they left their neck and breasts naked. It is not surprising. In Ancient Egypt a woman was the head of the family. She was free, educated, independent.

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One more interesting thing is that at a certain period of time it was quite fashionable for men to wear a beard, as it was regarded as a sign of power and wealth. Surprisingly, the only female king in ancient Egyptian history Hatshepsut was also depicted with a false beard, probably for a greater status (Source).

So women in Africa have a lot of things to surprise and sometimes even shock an ordinary man. But it only adds to their mysteriousness and distinctiveness.

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