List of Harmful Traditional Practices in Nigeria

There are some weird practices in Nigerian local communities which are adversely detrimental to the wellbeing of people who go through these practices. In our aim to expose the adverse effects of these practices, we will precisely give detailed review on the various harmful traditional practices in the country.

Harmful Traditional Practices in Nigeria

Harmful traditional practices are local traditions and processes that are practised in the local communities, and are known to effectsly affect peoples’ wellbeing. These practises are very common not just in Nigeria, but Africa as a whole as most of it are very destructive on influencing youngsters and teenagers which are the most victims of these customs.

There are many of harmful traditional practices and among them includes: female genital mutilation known as FGM, early marriage, forced marriage and polygamy, as they are important for you to comprehend in light of their impact on conceptive health and other effects of it.

List of Harmful Traditional Practices in Nigeria

Below we’ve outlined 10 unusual harmful traditional practices that are carried out in Nigeria til date.

1. Tribal Marks Cutting

Tribal marks is a very common practice among most Nigerian ethic groups. It is referred to as ‘Efidan’, and is a harmful practice of cutting a mark on the skin of person, mostly on the face.
Tribal marks are given on a child’s face as a means of uniqueness.

There are significance of these marks, which are: As a show of maturity when a child arrive pubescence; For ladies, tribal marks is done to finish their body and be all the more explicitly request to men by being attractive; For men, scars and cuttings fill a similar need, and as seen as an indication of preparedness to be a man, i,e, by taking responsibility for a family.

Though tribal marks is a very unique culture which needs to be preserved, the issue is that this process is carried out by inexperienced people who knows nothing about medication. Most of these marks are cut improperly on the skin, an this prompts the blood to bleed uncontrollably. Also, equipments and instruments used like knifes and razors are not sterilized and cleaned appropriately which can prompt the assortment of diseases, and Chronic virus like HIV/AIDS.

2. Female Genital Mutilation

This is a practice of circumcising women, where they experience the strategy of fractional or all out removal of the female genitals. This is practised in few African communities, as they consider this to be as a means where the girls gets her maturity, and in this way, they experience the process during their period of adolescence.

Female Genital Mutilation is regarded as a process of keeping their girls clean, and as such see it as making the outer organs supreme as it also guarantee the virginity of them. FGM is practised in some parts of Nigeria as they are ignorant of the complications which in some cases lead to vulnerable diseases, infertility and damaging of the female reproductive parts.

3. Child Labour

In most places in Nigeria, children are exposed and made to do hard works that is above their capability. This is known as Child Labour and is a harmful practise that adversely affects the child. This is seen as children under age of 12 are made to do strenous jobs which they may not be paid and cared for. They are forced to work in any conditions: on carrying of timbers, lifting of loads, and also working on construction sites by carrying heavy blocks.

The worst part of it is that these childrens don’t go to school and need to work without assurance of proper caring. Child labour is a seemly common practice in Nigeria, and various world organisations like UN and UNICEF are intervening on putting a solution to this in the country.

4. Forced Marriage

Forced Marriage is a kind of marriage that is orchestrate by the parents without the knowledge of person who is to be married. In this practice, parents on both side make plans that the child (which are in most case girls) will marry at a specific age, and moreso a particular person.

This act is seen as being forceful and some of such marriages may not stand the test of time, because these victims have no opportunity in picking their life companions, as they are constrained and marriage can be seriously forced by parents to become a spouse or wife.

5. Virginity Test

Virginity test is an absurd native way to physically determine the virginity of a person. This test is very prominent among the female gender, especially in interior African communities.
For a young lady to be characterized as a virgin, then several physical examination will be done on her private parts.

This is examined as she should have an active hymen (which is the piece of skin that partly covers the opening of the vagina of a women who has not have sex before). Other factors that are examined is the snugness of muscles behind the knees and the firmness of the bosoms.

On the other way, the males are checked for virginity by the virture that they have thick prepuce and can urinate more than one-meter high without using hands.
Virginity test is a popular social customs in Africa, and they are seen as a measure to check the worthness for marriage, especially among girls.

6. Breast Pressing

This is a traditional method of flattening a girls bossom by pressing. It is normally performed by a mother on a pubescent girl so as to prepare the girl child for adulescence. This process is carried out by the use of round or flat soft wood, granulating stones and spatulas on the person’s breast.

Breast flattening is done on a teenage girl approaching adulescence, so as to forestall sexual attractiveness and begin the sexual life for the young ladies. The adverse effect of this process is that it leads to complication and failure to deliver breast milk. It also posses a threat to the girl’s physical attraction, and may render the breast inactive.

7. Witch Burning

The culture of most African communities are associated with several beliefs and customs associated with endurance. Witchcraft and sorcery are very common in all Nigerian villages, as they belief that certain people among them possess evil magical powers in which they use to harm others.

Though a lot of these beliefs may not be veracious, it leads people to being obsessed about any evil happening within them. The side effect of this is that some villages go about burning these supposed witches, and this is very wrong, because these victims may not be guilty of their supertitious claims.

8. Male circumcision

Male circumcision is a process of removing the foreskin of a boy or man for traditional purposes. This practice is seen as being harmful because a lot of this circumcision activities are not carried out by professional, with right equipments, and are also not done in medical clinics or hospitals.

The local method of circomcising a male child is seen as being unsafe as most of it accompanies with unaviodable bad consequences.

9. Polygamy

Though you might be wondering why polygamy is a harmful practice, but there are disadvantages of the marriage system. Polygamy is basically a type of marriage where a man has more than one wife. When surveyed, it was examined that the northern part of Nigeria alone has this practice more in Africa.

This system of marriage is aviodable as it cripples most women and they have no capacity to pick their spouses. It is always their folks, especially their dad, who chooses who they will marry. In some cases as in Nigeria, the man is open to marrying more wives as he wishes as permitted by religious and traditional beliefs.

10. Forced Pregnancy

This is a practice done is some tribes in Nigeria, as they force a woman (always a widow) to be pregnated following the demise of his husband. In this manner, the woman is viewed as an apparatus of continuation of the generation.

This pregnancy is through the use of man’s semen or in some cases may be through the deceased’s brother, which they see as the continuity of the family line.


The harmful traditional practises in Nigeria are very much exaggerated, and we have attempt to list the top ones that are very critical. A look at these practices, it is obvious that the female gender is much affected, as it poses a major threat to their physical and human life. Nonetheless, governments, people and various human right groups should put hands on the desk so that these menace will be curbed.

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Oluchi Chukwu

Oluchi is a seasoned Information blogger, content developer and the editor of Nigerian Queries. She is a tech enthusiast who loves reading, writing and research

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