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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: Facts or Myths? The Mystery of Superstitions!



On a trip back from out of town with some older cousins the car had tyre issues just outside Lagos. As we pulled over to the side of the road, one of my cousins pulled me aside and said “Could it be because of this mortar that I carried?” I didn’t understand what she was on about. I hadn’t seen any mortar in the back of the car and I didn’t think the weight of the mortar was enough to do material damage to the wheels anyway. Then she said, “Well you know you’re not supposed to carry a mortar in a car without throwing a coin in it, otherwise you’ll spoil the car.” I stared at her for the longest time trying to determine if she was yanking my chain or not. She was as serious as a heart attack. When we fixed the car and got back on the road we spent the rest of the journey discussing the merits and demerits of whether the absence of the coin could have indeed somehow mysteriously affected the fact that the wheels got messed up.  One word that kept popping out of my mouth was “Superstition.” They kept trying to prove to me that what I called a superstition was the stuff of legends. To me, anything that can’t be scientifically proven is myth. For example, what’s the logical explanation that if you take a string from the fabric you’re wearing and place it bang in the center of your head, your hiccups will stop?  It is believed also, that if a woman is pregnant, and her legs are stretched out and you cross over those legs, the child will look like you.
Or if you’re making moin moin, just one person must make it from start to finish because the moin moin wouldn’t form.

There are some more interesting ones: When your palm itches, then money is coming… Don’t ask me from where; just go check your bank balance every time you feel the urge to scratch your palm. I’ve seen pregnant women with safety pins attached to their blouses and when asked they say it’s to ward off evil spirits.  This weekend, I had fun asking some of my most cynical friends about old wives’ tales and urban legends and some of them have testified to the veracity of those things. My friend testified that EVERY time she has sneezed mysteriously she always gets a message saying someone was talking about her some where.

When we were younger, we were told that if you lost a tooth, you should take 7 smooth pebbles, turn around 7 times and hurl the tooth and pebbles right up the roof and something will happen. For the ‘aje butters’, it was more like you put the tooth under your pillow and the tooth fairy would put a gold coin in its stead.

So fact or myth? What do you guys think about superstitions? What are your most ridiculous superstitious beliefs and which ones do you swear by?

Let’s talk about it….

Have a great week ahead, keep your head up and don’t forget, there’s always a reason to smile.

Love, peace & cupcakes!


Photo credit:

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. bafy

    November 12, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Where i come from, there’s a belief that you shouldn’t sweep inside your house at night cos it means you are sweeping away money. LOL

  2. Dammie

    November 12, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Hahahaha……so funny. Well sometimes its just 2 hard nt 2 believe dis myths or superstitions 4 instance anytime I’m walking n I almost trip,I turn arnd n sum1 is staring @ me hard sometimes its a guy checking me out*batts eyelashes*…..other times just normal or random pple who can’t help bt stare n dnt knw its rude.

    • nik

      November 12, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      dammi i so agree with you on that. i was told when i hiccup i should take 7 gulps of water, and God knows i have been doing that ever since and it works

    • Iya

      January 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Ermmm…nik….The reason it works is because hiccups is one symptom of dehydration. It doesn’t work because it’s superstition…

  3. funmi

    November 12, 2012 at 10:52 am

    I have heared it several times if you are going to visit someone; and you keep hitting your left foot against stone on your way; then that means the person is not around and should not bother
    Hitting left foot is considered a bad omen

  4. Retrochic

    November 12, 2012 at 10:54 am

    yay! first to comment, this is so true, am from the eastern part of nigeria, so therz dis popular one about eating the bottom of a chicken, that only elders it, one time in the villa for my sis trad, and i was so hungry, so i dished food for myself, and this lady told me dont eat the bombom of chicken oh, its and abormination, i just hissed and carried on, see me oh!

    • Kenyan girl

      November 12, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      wow we really are one people we say the same thing in kenya infact some mums would not serve that part in the serving dish if the man if the house who is the elder in this case if he was not around and would keep it till he got home or throw it if he was out of town etc

  5. Yerry

    November 12, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Hahahahah! I remember that one too well. I was always scolded by my mum each time I try sweeping at night. When I asked her why, she said she doesn’t know that her mum had always told her too. Funny!

  6. tbn

    November 12, 2012 at 11:31 am

    What about the one that says if you hit your left foot on a stone then it means an important person is going to pay you a visit. Theres also the one that says a pregnant woman should not go out at night so that evil spirits would not exchange the baby with a demonic one. Then when we were younger, aunt sent me on an errand and spat on the floor and said if i dont return before the spit dried up, one of my breast will be bigger than the other. Imagine my mortification when that actually happened.! (not knowing that its actually normal for one boob to be bigger than the other when its first developing) lolz. Well I don’t really believe those superstitions anymore, as i think its just a way for there to be a form of control and consequences for some acts in the society. Now we have laws to achieve control and science to prove and disprove some of these superstitions.

  7. Bamz

    November 12, 2012 at 11:36 am

    My cousin who grew up in the village had always told me that when you eyes blinks consistently it is a sign that you will experience something that will make you cry. I never used to believe her until my eyes started blinking continuously few days before my dad died. since then I totally freak out anytime my eyes blinks; its as if someone close to me will die

  8. adenike

    November 12, 2012 at 11:42 am

    The most ridiculous to me had to be mango and garri. A lot of us (in my generation) were warned never to take garri after eating the mango fruit. Well some folks said they tried it and sure nothing happened to them. But I’m yet to bell that cat mehn. Lol

    • As in

      November 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      I have tried that mango & garri thing many times & nothing happened. I suspect the fabled victim died of food poisoning, probably bad or unripe mangoes or something. I delight in doing things considered superstitious so I can prove them wrong. This also includes the way I raise my children. I refused to allow them use hot towels to massage my tummy after the birth of my 2nd child esp since my skin cooked and toughened during the exercise after the birth of my first. Today, i’m very ok, no left over blood etc. I also refused to pat the baby’s belly button with hot water. That will introduc germs if you ask me, but they say it reduces colic. They did it for my first & he still suffered from colic, didn’t do it now, no colic.

    • As in

      November 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      I forgot about the hite thread for hiccups. That has never worked for any of my children cos like me our hiccups go when they are done. No matter how much water or thread you use, the hiccups remains until it has served its term. I’ve been known to go to sleep with hiccups while my tummy is full of water taken in batches of 7 sips. Afetr a while, i just gave up!!!

    • As in

      November 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      *white thread

  9. nmbw

    November 12, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    well, I hear that works for hiccups in babies; might have been coincidental, but I have actually seen a mum do that and witnessed the almost immediate results.

  10. Chattyzee

    November 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I think the MOST ridiculous one I’ve ever heard is that you should never travel in a plane over the Red Sea because Pharaoh’s chariots that crashed in the red sea has become a HUGE magnet and it pulls down any plane that flies over it…….

  11. umo!

    November 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    There’s this superstition I still used2believe until a few mnths back….when u see white birds flying across d sky u stand wiv ur hands in d air singing “leke,leke give me white n take my black”…n ur fingernails wld av white patches….funny thing is dt I become curious abt y I still av d white patches even after over 10yrs of having stopped singing d ‘leke,leke song’…….I googled it n discovered it ws a disease of d fingernail….

  12. Annnaaa

    November 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I have many o. There is one that if you kill a wall gecko you will bed wet at night….They proliferated in our house then because nobody dared kill them. There is another that says if you ve sore throat when you wake up, don talk †☺ anyone go †☺ a cracked wall α̲̅πϑ breath out 7tymes. Did it then, Can’t remember if it worked. If you have running stomach α̲̅πϑ you are in a place where it is not convenient †☺ use the loo, put ya spit on ya navel α̲̅πϑ all symptoms will disappear. This has never worked for me o.

  13. TEE

    November 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I so love the article. The fact is most of this superstitions are there to prevent people from doing things that would cost more

    An example is ruling a line thorough a sandy area, that fact is when one does that in an area with lots of ants, it creates a pathway for them.

  14. Joan

    November 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    lol. I’m from eastern Nigeria and there’s one that if a baby is hiccuping, you should just put a thread on its head and the hiccuping will stop. Surprisingly, it has worked over the years, or so we think lol

  15. mandy

    November 12, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    lmaooooo hw about not drinking d water dat comes from coconut cos it wud make u dull…lmao

  16. ephee

    November 12, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    my mum told me that cooking yam portage or cutting of your nails inside the house causes quarrels. does horror movies make u have bad dreams as well just like my aunt always tell me.

  17. feisty chic

    November 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Atoke I love reading your write ups. to me most of them are just hogwash but sometimes I might do them in order not to jinx fate. Like the sweeping at night one that says you sweep away the happiness in the home. but really there are so many of them and they just are really funny. what does a piss of thread that isnt even touching the baby’s skin do to relieve a hiccup, I’ve hit both feet so many times against stones and that’s cos I have a balance issue, the bom bom of a chicken is the part that has the juiciest meat and I think that’s why the men had it reserved for them and is my best part of meat, the wall gecko one was cos they were a good way of controlling insect invasion in your house, and countless other ones. the one i am yet to confirm is the garri and coke/garri and mango one. (me I no wan die yet)

    • Pd

      November 13, 2012 at 12:18 am

      Garri n coke is really nice oooo…..just like putting milo in ur garri… for mango n garri…huh huh….i neva try dat 1.

  18. feisty chic

    November 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    piece of thread sorry

  19. graco

    November 16, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Chicken bum? Eeeew. Pls they can have it. Maybe i should establish that as a biz (wink). If it’s that important why don’t i see those at the shops.

    Pack of chicken wings…..check, pack of chicken breasts….check, pack of drumsticks…check. Aha… pack of chicken bums for daddy (papa)…..double check. Lol

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