Top 10 Nigerian Superstitious Beliefs

A belief is an acceptance that something is true and it exists, especially something without proof. It is having faith, trust, or confidence in something without a scientific backup. A belief can also be seen as a mental representation of an attitude being oriented positively towards the likelihood of something being true. In Nigeria, we have common practices and beliefs towards prophecy, luck, and spiritual beings. Our superstitions can be traced back to centuries ago when our ancestors tried to give meaning to the mysterious occurrence of events, because scientific knowledge that existed back then was limited. Here are the some of the superstitions that have persisted in Nigeria till date;

#10 Hitting your left leg on an object

This is seen as a warning or an evil omen indicating that the person should turn back from where he might be going to. This superstition is taken seriously, to the point that if the person was embarking on a journey, the person forfeits it, if not; there is a possibly that a life will be lost.

#9 Whistling at night

Whistling at night is not considered a good thing, because, whistling at night attracts a snake to the person whistling, according to superstitions.

#8 Owls hooting

When owls hoot on a rooftop or on a nearby tree, it is considered to be a bad sign. This bad omen is believed that someone in that house will soon die. In Nigeria, an owl symbolizes witchcraft and it cries are taken very seriously.

#7 Itching hands

It is believed that when your hands itch without a reason, some kind of fortune is about to come your way. A Nigerian man feels happy when he experienced such itch, because he believes he is encountering good fortune quite soon.

#6 Eating in the dark

This act is forbidden as it is believed that you could be inviting a ghost or the dead to eat with you if you eat in the dark. As a result, there could be grave ailments or it could lead to your death.

#5 Spitting on the floor

Spitting on the floor is frowned at because it is believed that when someone steps on it, the person gets a sore throat as a result.

#4 Lending in the morning

Lending money or selling a product on credit early in the morning for a Nigerian is considered as ill luck. This act is largely frowned upon in the Nigerian society. So don’t expect to borrow money or collect a product on credit from a Nigerian man, because he won’t attend to you since he believes it will bring him bad luck all throughout the day.

#3 Crossing over a pregnant woman’s legs

You cannot cross over a pregnant woman’s legs because it is commonly believed that when you do, she will be give birth to a child that will take after you. This act is mostly frowned on especially if the person crossing the woman’s leg is a stubborn child, a wayward person, a hooligan, or generally a person with bad behavior. To avert the rebirth, the person must retrace his steps and cross pregnant woman’s legs back. But if the person is of a good behavior, the pregnant woman will overlook it and even be happy that it is worthy to rebirth a child that takes after the offender. This act is sometimes extended to those that aren’t pregnant too.

#2 Sleeping on one’s back

When you sleep on your back, it is believed you will have bad dreams, so traditionally; the only way to prevent nightmares from happening is by sleeping on your sides of body.

#1 Kings forbidden to see corpses

In Yoruba land, a king cannot see corpse, as it is forbidden for the king to set his eyes on a dead person even if it is that of his wife, child, mother or father.

There is no scientific proof for superstitions. They cannot be explained by human knowledge and they are naturally related to future events, luck, ill-luck, religious or spiritual happenings. Before they become a tradition, many of the superstitions were seen as taboos. Some superstitions are to there to improve human health, or make reference to the gods and some are to guide human behaviors. While majority of the taboos are “don’ts”, we can find a few that are “dos” too. Currently, there’s a reduction of people who believe in superstitions. This is due to the fact that they have been exposed more to scientific knowledge, modern technology and the negligence of cultural and traditional practices.

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