That Africans are superstitious is a well-known fact. But since I do not live in all the countries in Africa, I will enumerate a few of the superstitious beliefs in Ghana, my homeland. These superstitions, though most times crude and detrimental to our well-being, also protect certain things we have. I will be glad if we can take the opportunity of enlightenment, education wise, to explain to our elders why some of these are preposterous. I do know our elders and the fact that persuading them is mostly a ‘cos 90’ job, but it wouldn’t hurt to try. These superstitious beliefs are always in battle with the various religious bodies as religious leaders try to demystify these beliefs, every time they find themselves among people with such intents, with their Holy Books.
- If you sing in the bathroom, your mother or father will die. (My thoughts on this, maybe, just maybe they did not want us to swallow the soapy water.
- If a child cries in the night, the child or one of his or her parents will die. (I think this was meant to stop the children who can speak and understand from crying, but those who do not understand, their parents hit something as though they are beating the child to prevent whatever bad luck from taking effect.)
- Unless you are the mother, father or a close relative, a new born cannot be seen until the seventh day. (I think they did this for protection against black magic)
- If you breastfeed your child in public, witches, wizards or herbalist with black medicine will infect the child with many unpleasant sicknesses. (Although I know it is a bit preposterous, you wouldn’t want to breastfeed your child in public in Ghana, trust me, a doubting Thomas, when I say your child may attract horrible diseases that way.)
- If you pound nothing in a mortar, you are pounding your mother’s breast. (Maybe this was meant to protect the mortar and the pestle, because pounding nothing breaks both.)
- If a pregnant woman eats eggs, she will give birth to a snake. (This is funny because we all know that eggs are nutritious to the mother and the baby.)
- When you whisper at night, you are calling dwarfs or snakes. (The snakes part have been proven by scientists but the dwafy part, I am guessing boys and girls whispered at night to call their lovers, and were being subdued with this superstition.)
- You do not play the draft game or ‘oware’ in the night because you will be playing with dwarfs. (Maybe this was meant to deter children who loved playing at the expense of sleep from doing so.)
- When you are eating, you do not sing or you will choke to death. (I guess this is somehow true as people choke when talking while eating.)
- You do not mention the names of snakes in the night or they will appear and make you their feast. (I have no idea of how this came about.)
- When a child reaches the age of two without sitting, crawling or talking, that child is a spirit child who must be sent back to his or her spirit masters. (This I think is crude because civilization has taught us those are disabilities, which most times can be cured.)
- You do not go to farm on a certain day of the week, mostly Tuesdays, or you will meet the river goddess which means instant death. (I think this was meant to protect the river bodies as people walked through most of them to their farms at the same time fetching to drink when there happens to be a shortage of water.
- When a female is too aggressive, it is a sign of witchcraft. (This is crude because most of these females are just hard working individuals. And the fact that they still use these crude measures to clip their wings by sending them to witch camps, is preposterous.)
- When a woman is pregnant, she cannot be married until she delivers, or else the husband will be marrying both the wife and the child if the baby happens to be a girl. This girl will grow up and never get married. (I think this was supposed to prevent pre- marital affairs but most people do not bother about this anymore.)
- A man does not wash the underwear of a woman or he will become stupid. (I have no idea about how this came about, maybe it was meant to ensure the superiority of men).
- You do not greet an elderly before visiting the toilet. It is believed that you will be easing yourself on the head of the elder or you may ease yourself chatting away. (I have no idea as to how this came about. But I sure do remember my late grandmother made sure we never breached it).
- When you see a white person in your dream, you have seen a witch.
- If a pregnant woman baths in the night, she will miscarry (Courtesy, Zaapayim)
When twins are born, their mother must turn into a beggar in order to feed them or they will die. (Courtesy, Zaapayim)
- When you sweep at night, you will have a misfortune or be visited by poverty. (Courtesy, Zaapayim)
- When you are sweeping and you see an elder passing, you have to say sorry or you may be cursed, as this may render you a sweeper for as long as the curse is stands or you will be poor forever.
- If a pregnant woman watches horror movies, she will give birth to an ugly child.
- When you give birth to a boy as a first child and you wake up in the morning and the first person who you see happens to be a boy, that is a sign of good luck and vice versa. (Mr. Imoro).
- If you eat and your hand touches the ground, it is a sign of bad luck. (Courtesy, Zaapayim)
- If a pregnant woman dies, those who bury her must have all her assets.
- If you pick money from the ground, you will lose more than what you took. (Mr. Imoro)
Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia © 2014.