Nigeria is known all over the world for it’s vast ethnic diversity, and rich cultural heritage; the traditional institutions stands as a symbol of the culture of Nigerians, thereby making the traditional rulers the custodians of its culture. Traditional rulers in Nigeria are highly revered and respected; with a unique authority mounted on the symbolic importance of their throne that remained firm, while relying only on customs, convention and consent of the community people they govern. Thereby, recording great successes because it is believed that the traditional rulers are the representatives of the ancestral gods on earth; hence playing significant roles politically, economically, socially and culturally in their various domains towards peace, togetherness and progress.
The laws of the Ancestors in Nigeria began as early as the begining of life, religiously connecting the living with the dead ancestors and those that are yet to be born. The ancestral laws are unique to the different tribes all across cultures in Nigeria but still most communities have the same taboo practices in experiences and executions.
The traditionalists living in the Nigeria rural communities believes in the super-natural spirits and the great ancestors; where idols and deities are looked upon as powerful fountain of justice, that can bestow blessings and are believed to have supernatural spirits which are invisible to all mortals. Worshipping collectively or individually their carved or molded deities that are assigned a shrine in sacred forests or homes while still believing in the omnipotent mighty God up above the sky in the Heavens. Most Nigerians who are traditionalist believe in predestination, doing all it takes to achieve a great destiny thereby abiding and obeying the ancestors through such deities who they believe are the controller of their destiny; with the belief that the powers to protect and prevent every evils lies with them. Hence the strong control of diviners, priests and priestesses over human behavior in most rural communities due to their powerful influences over the worshipped deities, thereby making the people to obey all laws of the gods while the people never go against tribal taboos believing that they are the laws of the god’s and MUST be obeyed.
The Masquerades In Nigeria
Masquerades are generally called in Igbo “Mmanwu” known as the “Masked Spirits”, which brings to life the invisible spirits of the ancestors a physical presence to honor the virtuous ancestors and to bestow blessings, abundance on the living. Most masquerades headdress or mask are the representation of menacing spirits while some masquerades punish miscreants in the society. In Yoruba masquerades are known as “Egungun” using the different headdress, masks and costumes to honor the dead and to communicate with ancestral spirits. The diviners who communicate with the spirit world assist in the performance, the herbalists help to “lace” the costumes for the protection and super-natural powers while the leader of the “Egungun” perform rituals to sanctify the masquerades costumes. The masked “egungun” comes alive during the Yoruba celebration of the “Odun Egungun Festivals” which is a performance for the great ancestors, the masquerades are seen running all around the neighborhood visiting compounds of the native descendants of the ancestors to bless or to punish them; with singing and dancing followers accompanying them. Masquerades are generally referred to as “Dodo” in Hausa, not necessarily having any special roles in the community except in folktales, and often portray with colorful costumes during celebrations just to entertain while herbalists are known to wear such costumes to promote the potency of their charms and herbs. Masquerades are respected in most cultures all over Nigeria; seen as sacred and the special reserve of the adult males alone for it is a taboo for women to see or move near “some” masquerades because it is believed that they possess mystical powers due to their supernatural spirits, while in the Yoruba land of Nigeria it is a taboo to mimic the sounds of the masquerades and whoever does so will be kidnapped never to be seen again. Thus, serving societal roles of control and stability, playing a protective and regulatory roles in the affairs of the living and the dead; governing laws which are irrevocable and punishable by death.
The Igbo Kneeling Clay Shrine Figure
They are used for the protection of shrine and to help assist the living members of the family, such figures will receive gift offerings during rituals from priest and priestesses.
The Maiden Spirit Mask
The mask depicts a female ancestor or spirit, linking it to the female kind as a symbol of fertility and prosperity. The headdress that demonstrate beauty and wealth which are mostly worn by the male Igbo masquerades to portray the ideal female in Igbo land during agricultural festivals and funerals with a role of watching over the living to promote also the abundant harvest during the post farming seasons.
The Sacred Earth
All cultures in Nigeria hold very sacred the mother earth, the sustainer of all lives and fertility, a means also of sustenance and vital resources; lands for building on, farming for food crops and the final home for the dead to be buried. The land is sacred, and any form of abomination against the mother earth is dreaded because of the severe repercussions. Nigerians believe that the spirit world lives also underneath the earth; hence the earth and all vital resources of the ocean waters, rivers and streams are believed to be abode of the super-natural spirits. In Igbo land a dense-forest exist where villagers go to for the fetching firewood; but one is not allowed to whistle, urinate, or speak ill of the dead or else that individual will walk on forever aimlessly around the forests until the god’s are appeased. Environmental sustainability has always been parts and parcels of the Nigeria cultures, achieved for reasons and purposes of taboos in order not to defile the sacred land of the native community.
The Evil And Sacred Forests With It’s Fetish Shrines
The An evil forests are places for discarding cultural garbage’s of community ills and traditional trash; believed to be a dark and scary place where the demon lives, freely walking within are wild animals, a fierce-some wilderness of dense-vegetation where fetish shrines are mostly located. The evil and sacred forests shrines are so powerful due to its “impenetrable secrecy” and all around the shrine are fetish objects dotting all over such as handcrafted idols and deities, seen strategically placed are different types of gourd calabashes, native clay pots with elongated neck and vessels filled with plants, twigs, and roots concoctions. Displayed also are animal horns, bones and the remains of animals used for blood sacrifices which hangs grotesquely on hand-woven strings of raffias, looking menacingly spooky. A place for rare plants, barks, roots and herbs to be harvested for use in the preparation of the juju concoction popularly known as the native herbal medicine and a place to seek divine intervention from the supernatural spirits.
The consequences of taboos in Nigeria are grievous when ancestral laws are broken; caught, curse and condemn to the evil forests:- A place where evil spirits move freely, ready and waiting for its next victim; a place where the deciding moment between the living and the dead are invisible to the visible eyes because not all that visits the evil forests will live to tell the story while for the lucky few who left unharmed it is an experience never to be repeated. The evil forests is a spiritual and spooky place that represents fear, evil and death; a dense-vegetation where people who died of deadly diseases such as the leprosy and smallpox as well as the “Osu” known as the outcast in Igbo land, “Ogbanje” referred to as the “Predestined to die” are either taken to die or buried because of the so-called “evils” surrounding their death or the “evil spirit” shrouding their souls. The Igbo of southern Nigeria are generally known to have evil and sacred forests in almost every village, a dumping grounds for all of the societal ills; a place where “twins” who by the Igbo cultures are bad omen are dumped during the ancient days, and a place for suicide victims to be dumped, unburied to rot or be eaten by wild animals.
The evil forest for people living in such communities are generally avoided because of the fearful and gory story about the spiritual and physical danger within the dense-vegetation; except for the juju priests and priestesses, the traditional herbalists known as the “Juju priests” in Igbo, the “Boka” in Hausa and the “Babalawo” in Yoruba, who are believed to have supernatural powers, the blessings and protections of the spirits of the ancestral god’s to enter and leave the sacred forests unharmed. The evil forests is a fetish place harboring fetish shrines and the diviners of such shrines are looked-upon as demi-gods who intercedes between the living and the spirit world; having a fearful efficacy to keep people in the community submissively obedient and very importantly protecting the environmental natural habitats. There is a rich history in the evil and sacred forests, it is vital to preserve the unique powerful landscapes for all the great archeological resources, beauty and blessings.
Tribal Taboos And Myths In Nigeria
The beliefs and taboos of the Nigerian rural communities dates back to the ancient days of the ancestors; Taboos are cultural prohibitions, restricting community behavior to avoid danger and uphold sacred cultural practices that are peculiar to cultural set-ups in villages and towns for moral guidance, protecting the deities and shrines, the wellbeing of the environment and the people within rural communities. The forbidden or taboo are simply traditional rules that a community had to live by in order to keep the land of the god’s clean and pure, so during the ancient days cultural communities decided to come up with traditional norms, values and rules that must be obeyed. The needs to purify the land and prevent cultural abuses led to the setting up of tribal taboos and abominations in Nigeria; and going against such rules will be considered a taboo, an action against the norms and values of the cultures of the land. Consequently, tagged a forbidden deed and in most cases punishable by death or a life of banishment to the evil forests.
Taboos in Nigeria can have a positive impacts towards preventing and protecting the environment from further damage. Traditional communities where the gods and goddesses are worshipped by the people in sacred and serene places and at such can help to preserve and protect “Flora And Fauna”. The riversides and deep forests are believed to be habitats for the ancestral spirits, taboos in such traditional communities can help prohibits the people living within such communities from polluting and tempering with natural habitats due to the facts that the traditional custodians of such places are revered and respected; the fears of the wraths of the ancestral gods can also ensure the sustainability of water resources to the community. The sustainable uses of the soils through shifting cultivation and the Fulani nomadic way of living and herding of animals allows for the plants to regenerate and for the soil to regain it’s fertility before the next cultivation. In Nigeria most tribes, cultures, and customs forbid and frown upon all forms of societal ills; the following are some of the taboos frown upon and forbidden in Nigeria:-
The ancient days see to it that the rites and rituals are controlled by the traditional custodians of the land such as the priests and priestesses. In Igbo land the Nze is the male priest while the Ozo is the female priestess and the spouse of the Nze, they are within their communities respected and revered thus the preferential treatments and exemptions from any form of community work, duties and responsibilities seen as disrespectful except that which were spiritually assigned to them by the Ancestral gods. As a show and symbol of respect, honor and prestige the “NZE” and “OZO” never share the rivers, streams and waterways with the “ordinary” community people, they are given the sole privileges and privacy to use alone while other villagers scamper away on sighting them until they are all done with the use of the waters. Anyone who forcefully disobeys the taboo must perform the rites of purification to seek forgiveness from the gods and reverse the consequences of the taboos.
Adultery, Incest, And Fornication
In most Nigeria tribes, cultures and customs, forbids and frown upon the act of adultery. All tribal communities “Abhor Adultery” for the Yoruba land an unfaithful wife must be punished with consequences of death if she is caught cheating on her husband by the use of “Magun juju” with which she was unknowingly “laced”; the adulterous lover might also lose his life if the “antidote” is not administered immediately to reverse the curse. The Igbo communities are of the belief that adultery causes lack and poverty believing that an unfaithful wife can also cause the untimely death of her spouse so adultery is severely punished and such women are avoided by men for fear of their lives; thus, when an Igbo woman marries it is for a lifetime except in situation of divorce. The Hausa of northern Nigeria women are strictly warned and watched, never to be intimately involved with men not legally married to them.
The King And The Crown
In most communities it is an abomination for a king to prostrate to greet anyone even his parents. While in some tribes it is seen as a taboo to mourn the death of a king at his funeral, as such it is not often announced until after the king has been buried and a new king installed. The king’s crown is special and sacred; a myths that is strongly revered by rulers especially kings is shrouded around the royal crown of the king. The visible reality is that a king must wear a crown but must never look inside the inner house of his crown. It is a cultural belief that any king who goes against the deadly taboo to look into his crown has simply had a glimpse into his own grave. The kings crown in most Yoruba communities are sacred as such some traditions forbids anyone who was not authorize to touch or pick the king’s crown; a famous folktale often told is a story about a powerful king who when he removes his crown none other than the king can lift the crown which can never be stolen because of the supernatural juju powers surrounding and shrouding the king’s crown.
The Yoruba’s of western Nigeria forbids the pregnant women from going to the market places, streams, or walking around the streets at noon in order for them to avoid meeting evil spirits and consequently, birthing deformed babies. But if they must go out to such places then the antidote is for them to tie to their wrappers edges a tiny piece of rock to scare away any evil spirits from harming their unborn babies. Pregnant women in some Yoruba communities are forbidden to go near corpses.
The Backed Baby
In Yoruba land of western Nigeria, a mother must go through a cultural purification called “Atutu” if her baby falls off her back or else the boy child will always lose his wife to the cold hands of death and the girl child will lose every husband she marries. The baby that is strapped to the back of his/her mother must never fall off or else will face an evil fate for life. Mothers are known to do whatever it takes in protecting the child strapped to their back even if it means losing their own lives in the process of doing so.
The Killing Of Others And Oneself-Suicide
The killing of oneself or others is against the teachings of Islam and Christianity; it is a taboo in Yoruba, Hausa and the Igbo land, that is also forbidden and frown upon by the community and the gods of the land. The land must never be desecrated by the body of any individual who has committed suicide, because it is an unforgivable taboo, an abomination for anyone to take his own life. The corpse of a suicide victim can not be buried in the land; when suicide is committed in the land the corpse are thrown into the deep forests known as the evil forests, left to rot or eaten by wild animals. The gods can be appeased by offering sacrifices in order for the corpse to be offered all burial rites and lowered into the grave. The traditional families knows the repercussions of committing suicides by any family member, it affects the whole generation of the families of a suicide victim. All over the country Nigeria it is an abomination by all cultures and by all religious teachings to kill any human being.
The Same Sex Marriages
The union of marriage are seen as normal between the man and woman from different families, but forbidden between brothers and sisters from within the same blood family. It is an abomination and a taboo, marriages between same sex of the females or males; although same sex marriages occurs but never in the vicinity of the society and always kept a secret. The same sex marriages, father and daughter, brother and sister are all considered incest, a taboo that can cause or bring down the wrath of the gods not only upon the couples, the families but the whole community.
The Marrying Of Osu
All over Nigeria across cultures and tribes, the historical family roots, social class, and religion; cultural norms are always under the lens before marriages are contracted. It is a taboo in Igbo communities for a free born to get married or sleep under the same roof with an “Osu” an outcast; an Osu in Igbo land is considered the property of the gods, seen also as a slave and a descendant of slaves. It is a taboo to marry an “OSU”, they are never to be considered for, offer to, accept or taken for marriage. It is a practice till date to always check, question and investigate the origin and social class of an individual male/female before marriage rites are conducted.
The ancestors considered the birthing of twins as a taboo, consequently the killings of twins during the ancient days. Babies born with teeth or babies growing the upper teeth first are for the Ndigbo an abomination and a bad omen; during the ancient days such babies are taken and thrown into the evil forests but in today’s society of modernization and the various religious teachings, such practices has long been abolished and it remains archaic only remembered in ancient folktales.
The Whistling, Sweeping, Playing, Cock Crowing And Mortar Pounding At Night
The making of whistling sounds through the mouth at night are culturally believed to invite the evil spirits into homes, consequently turning such houses into demonic homes tormenting and haunting all family members; to reverse the curse the gods must be appease by an elderly quickly throwing a burning firewood outside, pleading and promising never to repeat such again. While cultural practices in some remote rural communities is to caution the kids as soon as the soon goes down to stop playing and enter into their houses to avoid the night spirits passing by at that moment; then later on at night when the moonlight is shinning bright kids are allowed once again to go out and play quietly but must avoid the trees because it is believed that jinns and spirits are cooking for their kids and must not be disturbed. In some rural communities it is an abomination to sweep the house at night believing that the dust must never get into the eyes of the spirits.
It is a taboo to pound the mortar at night which is believed to disturb the spirits while in some communities children are not allowed to cry at night. The cock naturally never crows at night, considered also as a bad omen for a cock to crow at night not only in Igbo land but all across cultural communities in Nigeria; but when it does it must be slaughtered and eaten to avert the repercussions.
Bad And Evil Treatments Of In-Laws
All across the Nigeria family structures every single family member is part of the immediate nuclear family where their wellbeing and lives are precious, so must be protected and provided with all care, respect, compassion, peace and love. The families of both spouses are parts and parcels of the whole extended family, it is a taboo to do evil or to maltreat, insult or disrespect any family member of either of the spouses because marriage is a union of the families of both spouses and must be treated as treasure for the whole generation. Any family member who decides to go against the laws of the ancestors to uphold the peace, kindness and love, commits an abominable act, and the repercussions hangs threateningly upon his or her life.
Urinating Or Defecating In Public
In the northern parts of Nigeria it is forbidden for men especially Muslims to urinate while standing; the Muslim women must not be seen urinating anywhere in the public. While it is normal and accepted in other parts of Nigeria for men and women to urinate standing in private or public. Environmental health on open defecations in focus.
The Breaking Of The Wine Keg By The Groom-To-Be
It is a taboo and a bad omen for a wine carrying Igbo groom-to-be to crash the calabash gourd of wine on the ground while on his way to the bride-to-be family home; if it happens he must retreat and return home immediately.
Disrespectful Behaviors Towards The Elders
In Nigeria some rural communities forbids the young ones from making eye contacts, or looking at the elders while talking, it is also a taboo to talk back to the elderly when elders are speaking which is seen as lack of parental training and a disrespect to the elders. The use of the left hand to do anything is strictly forbidden all across cultural practices in Nigeria; to give or accept with the left hands is seen as a sign of disrespect and bad manners, elders especially rejects and punish the giving and receiving of things with the left hands by kids but such behaviors from the youths or grown-ups are frowned upon and warned against while those who are naturally left-handed are re-oriented to learn the use of the right hand for eating, greetings, giving and accepting things.
In Igbo land taboos as simple as an odd numbered counts of a gift items given or received are considered a symbol of bad luck that will only bring about bad tidings. Giving in multiples is believed to bring forth multiple blessings. It is an abomination to give to others items in counts of 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 while it might be accepted but are later thrown away; the most acceptable is the even numbered of 2, 4, 6, or 8. In Nigerian cultural communities all daily practices are linked to what is “allowed” or “disallowed” by the ancestral gods.
Abnormal Fruits, And Vegetables
Cultures in Nigeria considered the deformed animals and fruits as bearers of ill omen; with mystical belief that it is a taboo to look at the two fingers carrot, banana, or plantain attached together while separating the two. It is also forbidden to eat abnormally formed animals, fruits or vegetables which was believed can cause the birthing of conjoined twins or disable babies.
One Infant Animals
It is an abomination in Igbo land and most communities to for a goat or hen to bear a single infant but if it does the infant must be slaughtered and eaten when it matures but never to be allowed to have infants or to be sold at the markets places because it is referred to as “Eburala”; a forbidden animal species.
The Killing Of Reptiles And Rare Animals
The Igbo’s of southern Nigeria, regard the pythons as a reincarnation of their ancestors also believed to be guardian of their land, for them pythons are sacred and it is seen as sacrilegious in Igbo land the killing of the python generally called (EKE) which could bring down the wrath of the gods upon the person, family and the community as a whole. In Igbo land the two most popular pythons they are the “Eke orasi” which is the short specie that is forbidden to be killed or eaten, while the commonly seen “Eke Uwonya” is the giant long forest python that is consumable for the Ndigbo. Hence, the prevention and protection of the species of python, thereby conserving the reptiles and other sacred animals within such communities.
Animals, Reptiles, And Birds
All across the Nigerian cultural cuisines what are considered as delicacies and relished by some cultures are forbidden and avoided by other cultures; the eating of vultures, bats, cats, pigs, dogs and donkeys meats are forbidden by most tribes in northern Nigeria due to the Islamic doctrines inculcated right from the beginning of birth which forbids the killing and eating of such animal meats.
The northern Nigeria Hausa are mostly practicing the religion of Islam while the minorities in northern Nigeria are the believers of other religion; since the majority of Hausa in northern Nigeria are Muslims they strictly avoid anything that the religion of Islam prohibits; the following are seen as taboos such as the eating of food prepared with pork meat, consumption of alcohol, nudity, and the wearing of gold and silk are forbidden for the Muslim males. The Hausa of northern Nigeria being Muslim majority forbids and sees as taboo the eating of pork or any meat not allowed by Islam; so it is best to avoid them especially in the homes of the practicing Muslims but the same can not be said for the Hausa-minority Christians who live by and follow the teachings of Christianity where the opposite of the aforementioned are not prohibited, thereby preserving such animals in the north.
In the southern parts of Nigeria many eats and enjoy such animals as special delicacies that is often served along with native dishes and the native wine popularly known as palm wine, consequently, causing the animal species to be extinct.
The eating of snails, toads, lizards and insects are forbidden in some parts of Nigeria while the eating of fishes from certain sacred streams in parts of the Igbo land are forbidden; it is considered a tribal taboo believing that the god’s of the streams will be angry, so no one is allowed to touch, caught or kill the fishes. These taboos are religiously followed and the non-compliance with any of the community widely believed taboos only attract and give rise to a public outcry; sanctioning such erring members of the rural community and in some cases sacrifices must be made to cleanse the land and to appease the gods of the ancestors against repercussions of such act against the gods. In most forests in Nigeria rare animals, birds and reptiles are hunted for food and traditional medicine, traded openly in bush meat markets in Nigeria; even though hunting, and trading in such exotic animals are unlawful, such as the African pangolins which has been prohibited and protected by law is now an endangered specie being fiercely poached due to strong demands and it’s high prices that buyers are willing to pay for the pangolins and it’s scales. The African monkeys, elephants, zebras, Rhino are not left out either most especially for the rhino horns, ivory from the elephant tusks. Most poachers never accepts the real facts of hunting down such animals rather claiming that they are caught by chance on their farms while harvesting, processing or gathering foods and firewood.
The Argungu fishing festivals in Kebbi State Nigeria showcases a 4-days annual events that attracts participants from neighboring countries and tourists all over the world. The 4-days festival is a series of water festivals that includes hand fishing, canoe racing, wild duck catching and the traditional boxing and wrestling competitions; during the fishing race drumming, dancing and singing add an entertaining perspectives to the festival. It is celebrated at the beginning of the fishing season, a world famous cultural festivals called the Argungu “Fishing-Frenzy Festivals”. The Argungu region has several areas of fertile rivers with orchards beautifully surrounding it and the cultural practices of the Argungu rivers are that of a sound conservation ethics that promote sustainable natural resources of the fishes reptiles such as the crocodiles in the waters. The traditional diviner of the Matan Fada rivers known as the Sarkin Ruwa in Hausa is the popular King Of The Waters; who ensures the safety of the rivers by first consulting the oracle of the river to seek permission in order to fish from the river. There is a cultural belief that fishes in the rivers would be invisible to anyone even the greatest fishermen because the traditional custodian of the rivers is the only one with the super-natural powers that can command and invites fishes to the rivers from other rivers that are connected to the Argungu rivers to come for the festivals; the crocodiles that are often seen visible in the rivers are also commanded to remain invisible until after the festivals which is done to give all the competing fishermen the freedom and tranquility to compete without any fears of being attack by the reptiles. On the day of the festival, all competing fishermen dive in at the sound of a gunshot to hunt and hook by hand the biggest fish that will guarantee the grand prize; competing men are seen rattling huge seed-filled traditional gourds calabashes with some lying over the gourds on their stomachs driving the fishes towards shallow waters, and with the use of their bare fishing seek out a big catch while others are seen walking around the river, casting vast nets for the harvesting of the fishes because only the traditional fishing tools are allowed. The one who catches the biggest fish is awarded various prizes with a huge cash prize to top it up for the Argungu Fishing Star.
The powerful cultural belief is the traditional taboo surrounding and shrouding the rivers; all are warned NEVER to go fishing in the Argungu River unless invited to do so by the traditional custodian of the rivers, thereby preserving and protecting the waters Flora and Fauna; fishing for the Sustainable Development Goals 14 “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”
The Union Of Nature And Culture In Osun Oshogbo Sacred Forests
In Nigeria right from the ancient days, tribal taboos and beliefs has religiously protected evil and sacred forests because they are sacred places for religious rituals, cultural ceremonies and festive festivals; subsequently promoting forest preservations and biodiversity conservation, supporting also the ecosystem functions. Are the sacred shrines and evil forests of dense vegetation’s disappearing with developments or is there a need to preserving the unique cultural landscapes in Nigeria?
The Osun river is home to the Goddess of fertility, fashion, healing and blessings. The sacred grove around the Osun River is made up of amazing dense vegetation “undisturbed” by human activities. An annual traditional festivals of rituals, worships and festivity takes place by worshippers of the Osun River Goddess. The sacred grove that was “un-tampered” became a tourist attraction with visitors coming in from countries all over the world due to the artistic transformation of Susanne Wenger and her husband; her sustainable native arts development revived the “undisturbed” natural “ruins” into an awesome transformation of brilliant and mind-blowing artwork treasures which adorn the sacred forest that was inspired by the natural habitat of flora and fauna; most especially by the beauty and purity of the Osun river which later earned her the befitting, exalted and esteemed title of “Adunni Olorisha” in Yoruba known as the high priestess of the “Osun Cult”; the diviner of the Osun River Goddess.
The Osun Sacred Forest has the full essence of mother nature because it is and always has been a taboo to fish, farm, and hunt on the sacred land; thus the rare species of animals found on the exotic and luscious greens of mother nature in all it’s beauty and glory as seen in the sacred grove natural habitats of “flora and fauna”. The sacred forest was and still is a beautiful traditional splendor with it’s “undisturbed” dense-forest that has been preserved and protected by the laws of the god’s which is respected and revered, enforced by the socio-cultural norms through traditional diviners. The dense-vegetation of the evil and sacred forests in Nigeria are rare and wild animal species, priceless plants and awesome rivers that could have been destroyed or extinct by human activities such as hunting, pouching or industrialization; targeting the SDG 15 “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt, and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.” Protecting the environment begins with protecting the forest resources so it is necessary to for the methods to be revisited and replicated for the restoration and the preservation of other evil and sacred forests found wasting away in almost all villages in Nigeria.
Tapping The Traditional Taboos
Traditional laws and taboos which regulate and control the use of natural habitats were respected and revered by all natives living within any given community in the past so the role of traditional taboos in building support for environmental sustainability are vital; which has assisted in the protection and conservation of environmental natural habitats of the “flora and fauna”. The adaptation of some aspects of these taboos maybe valuable for the Sustainable Development Goals successes in achieving some of its objectives if not all, thereby the need to revisit such cultural practices, review and replicate how it has aided the sustainability of the environment in the past; subsequently, encouraged, strengthened and replicated for the Sustainable Development Goals because the socio-cultural norms of a society ensured that all taboos are obeyed. Social norms of a people are simply the basic rules of behavior that governs a cultural group of people within a given community; beliefs, rituals, superstitions and taboos. The socio-cultural norms and religious factors such as stigmas and myths all have a restricting influence on the use of some flora and fauna within the native communities; water hygiene, hunting of rare animals and fuel choices. In Nigeria forests are fast disappearing due to the use of trees for firewood, fell by tree harvesters; in most rural communities, cultural cuisines are relished because of it’s “native” taste due to “smoky” aroma of such dishes, traditionally considered to be the best compared to modern dishes that are cooked with “clean energy” but without such aroma and taste. Consequently, encouraging the harvesting of wood fuel and the cooking practices of “delicious” cultural cuisines which are regarded much more important than the realities of exposure to everyday household air pollutions from the use of firewood’s and the three stone local hearth.
It is vital to curb all cultural sentiments that influenced household cooking practices; energy choices of the firewood with disregard to causes of household air pollution illnesses, due to the high regard for and the high level of attachments to the uses of the traditional fireplaces and firewood. Environmental sustainability will be the better for it, if such cultural norms are redirected towards other much more environmental-friendly cooking practices and fuel choices for healthy living and a cleaner environment. The total reliance on the traditional use of biomass for cooking due to poverty and the absence of other options contributes to forest depletion and climate change. The Nigerian traditionalists are known for upholding traditional laws and taboos in such cultural communities where animals, plants species, streams and rivers were found to be forbidden, seen as taboos for both spiritual and medicinal purposes.
The various custodians of the Nigeria culture have a significant roles to play towards safeguarding the sustainability of natural habitats and the environments for a positive impact in solving the climate problems and crisis. The cultural custodian of the people such as royal fathers, known as the “Oba” in Yoruba, “Obi” in Igbo, and “Emir” in Hausa have a life changing roles to play through their various spiritual diviners, to promote and pass on the information for the replacement of the traditional fireplaces of the three stone hearths that uses fire woods with cleaner fuels and the much more energy-efficient cooking solutions; in order to reduce and rid the environment of smoke emissions towards sustaining a healthy environment for a healthy life. All these can be made possible by the availability and affordability of energy efficient cooking solutions that can reduce smoke emissions for the very poor households living in remote rural communities; thereby giving energy to the Sustainable Development Goals 7 “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.”
Nigeria is a blessed country with amazingly awesome and unique natural habitats; It is absolutely necessary to preserve the unique cultural landscapes with all its beautiful archeological resources. Nigeria blessings has turned into a curse, causing tears and pains:-
The southern Nigeria Okija forests and sacred shrines in Anambra State, turned into a slaughter site for human sacrifices, ritual killings and a place where the so called “guilty victims” of business gone wrong are judged and forced to drink poison to prove their innocence, with human skulls gruesomely displayed as artifacts of the devils gatekeepers.
The Oyo state of western Nigeria where the forest of horror is located, named Soka Evil Forest Ibadan, a home to kidnappers and kidnapped victims who are tortured and killed while the ritual murderers claimed that such victims are mentally retarded, witches and wizard. The northern forests in Nigeria are considered mystical and sacred; the once beautiful and luscious forests for game reserves and national parks are now infested by crimes and criminalities, an enclave and safe haven for insurgents, bandits and kidnappers.
The Yankari game reserve in Bauchi state is losing its beauty due to neglects; in Borno State the Sambisa forests a breathtaking game reserve home for amazingly rare animal species with mind-blowing views of the Mandara hills are now homes to the insurgents bedeviling the northern Nigeria. The Falgore game reserve in Kano is now a den of criminals; the Dajin rugu an awesome dense forest with beautiful hills, known all over the world for it’s famous rocks in Kaduna state, parts of Katsina and Zamfara States of Nigeria that was a haven to wild animals, with it’s beautiful rivers, dams, rocks an amazing forests for natural habitats harboring exotic flora and fauna is now a fortress for crimes and criminalities. The preservation of the evil and sacred forests in Nigeria started from the ancient days due to traditional laws and rules prohibiting hunting and cutting down of trees in all the sacred forests which where executed by diviners and masquerades forcing the natives to abide by the laws of the gods. There is a need for the inclusion of environmental management in national development plan for sustainability; Good governance can reverse the loss of environmental resources and sustain environmental development. The Nigerian exotic forests are awesome sites for tourists if only the government of the day did the needful to focus on reclaiming, revamping and resuscitating the forests for the protection of all humanity and the preservation of her environment; it can be a place to visit from within Nigeria and also attracts tourists NOT terrorists from all over the world.
In Nigeria nature and culture exist beautifully for ages, but the activities of humans is responsible for most of the environmental disasters of climate change and crisis in which humankind is threatened today; it is vital to reduce environmental footprints through sustainable practices. The Nigeria environmentally sustainable development policies and practices needs to revisit and replicate some of the very important traditional laws and tribal taboos for the preservation of the environment, the resources within it in order to benefit humanity, to ensure the planets survival and sustainability for the use of the present and future generations!