One of my friends sent my brother to buy him a soft drink, but he did not give him money since the woman who sold it was a neighbour, and he reckoned that he would give her the money when he returned the bottle. My brother returned without the soft drink and said that the woman asked him to bring money. She said she had not sold anything, and she did not want to start the day giving out her goods on credit. My friend laughed and asked aloud what she meant. I told him it’s a mentality with Yorùbá people- I don’t know about other cultures- that when you start your day with credits, then that is what you will spend the whole day doing- selling on credit. He said it is just one of the old superstitions that people are still yet to do away with, and went to get the soft drink himself. Oh, and he took money along. 😉
The scenario brought superstitions to my mind afresh. It has been quite some time since I really thought about them. They arise very frequently in my dealings with people, and even influence some of my actions. Every child that grew up here in the South-West, I’m sure, has some knowledge of superstitions, and must have heard them while growing up. Every culture has its own share of superstitions, and the Yorùbá culture is not exempt. In fact, I think we have them in excess. 🙂
I should make it clear before I go on that superstitions are not the same as taboos or abominations. While taboos are sacred rules that must not be disobeyed as they usually result in death, superstitions are rules and guidelines for living and interactions/associations with others, to which scary consequences were attached. A lot of superstitions were just rules used to deter bad habits, and did not always result in death. However, they instilled fear in the hearts of many children as they grew up, and set them on the path to responsible adulthood.
So, I thought about some of the superstitions I heard while growing up, some of which are still common today, and I came up with eleven.
1. If you sleep face-up, you could get possessed by an evil spirit.
2. If a rat eats your used sanitary pad, your child will be a thief.
Rat? Pad? Thief? How are they even related?
This was probably formed to ensure that girls dispose of their sanitary napkins properly.
3. If you walk over a broomstick at the threshold of a room, you will forget what you wanted to do.
We did this a lot in primary school when our teacher had threatened to flog us, or when we had not done an assignment. It worked a few times, but I don’t know if it was due to the broomstick. Ha ha!
4. If you eat at the doorway, you won’t be filled.
I read in a Yorùbá textbook that this is actually because you will have to keep getting up for people to pass, and you will end up dissatisfied because of the distractions.
5. If you whistle in the afternoon when it is very hot, you will attract snakes.
Lemme swallow my whistle.
I guess this is because snakes are supposed music lovers.
6. If you whistle in the night, you will attract evil spirits.
We can’t whistle at night too?
I don’t know if evil spirits also love music. 🙂
7. If a pregnant woman walks at high noon, or a bit later, evil spirits will possess her baby, or even replace it.
This one is still believed, till today. Pregnant women always have a safety pin in their clothes, as this is said to keep evil spirits away.
8. If you beat a boy with a bunch of brooms, he will be impotent.
We used to talk about this a lot when we were children, even though we did not know what it meant to be impotent. 😉 This was probably to make parents desist from beating their children with brooms as brooms break in the skin and cause painful wounds.
9. If you cross over a female’s legs, her child will look like you and behave like you.
Wait, wait. I don’t understand. Please explain it again.
10. If you put your hand in the rain, your hand will go limp.
This was to deter children from collecting rainwater with their hands.
11. If you set eyes on melon shells first thing in the morning, you will become foolish.
Images from Google.com
These are the ones I managed to remember. I know there are lots more. So, tell me, what superstitions did you hear while growing up, and which ones do you still hear nowadays? Please drop your comments. Thank you for reading!