Do you know that in Africa there are so many outrageous myths and beliefs? Mind you, this is not voodoo.
Myths do exist. Most times, they are used to scare or refrain children and young adults from being rude, behaving wildly or disobeying their parents or elders. So let’s define a myth to get a clearer picture of my viewpoint for this post.
Myths are a commonly held but false belief, a common misconception; a fictitious or imaginary person or thing; a popular conception about a real person or event which exaggerates or idealizes reality.
Here are some common myths in West Africa:
1. Myth on The Night Sweeper: Do not sweep in the quiet night, when everyone is asleep! It’s even believed that anyone who dares to sweep late into the night will get himself arrested by ghosts! But the excitement goes when you find out this is far from reality.
2. Myth on Whistling: No whistling in the night! Ghosts may slap the whistler for disturbing the night. I heard that when a ghost slaps anyone, a part of the face turns black!
3. Myth on Fishing: It’s my advice to anyone especially travellers, to be wary of where you cast your fishing lines. Some believe that fish and all aquatic life in some streams are not meant to be eaten. They are perceived as gods, anyway.
Growing up, I recall the warnings not to fish or take any creature from some streams and ponds in my village. I also remember killing and taking a crab home, and being asked to return it to the stream with apologies! If you deliberately harvested a fish from the stream, the stream will violently visit! It wasn’t funny then, no one would like a stream to visit him, hence the belief was respected anyway.
4. Myth on Footless Ghosts: It’s believed that to distinguish a living being from a ghost, one needs to bend down, spread your legs, and look through those spread legs. If you do this, you will see people whose feet barely touch the ground. Mind you, they say that doing this gets ghosts angry. I’ve never tried it before, but wouldn’t imagine a floating ghost.
5. Myth on The Spiders Web: If you sleep beneath a spider web you may have bad dreams. A lot of people said this is true. I’m not sure since spiders are just normal living creatures.
6. Myth on Sneezing: When you sneeze often then someone is thinking about you. Familiar right? I think that this is true. But there’s no evidence to back it up. Until then it will remain a myth unless you think otherwise.
Watch this space for more myths. I’ll be updating from time to time. Good night.