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Seyi Ogunnaike: Living in the Fear of Culture & Tradition

Seyi Ogunnaike



The practice of not having certain people buried alone is still very much with us. It is a situation where a few sacrifices, in the form of human lives, must be made. This is to ensure the smooth passage of such persons to the great beyond.

This throws up pertinent questions: does the government allow people to take the lives of other people for the sake of tradition? What happened to right to life? Does the government allow certain individuals, who have the same right as every other citizen, compel people to shut down their businesses in the day (sometimes their only source of livelihood) for several days and restrict movement for long periods? This is an utter violation of human rights… all in the name of tradition? Ultimately, are the laws of culture & tradition greater than the laws of a country?
It’s easier for a few people to quickly get defensive some of these practices with the argument that these things are part of our culture or tradition, because they have never lost a relative to this “bizarre acts”.

In this day & age, it is extremely shocking to realise that such barbaric acts are still being practiced and the authorities completely turn a blind eye. It has even become a show of pride when people just carelessly say in a conversation “Oh, the titled man just passed away, there’ll be ‘Oro Festival’ for some days and it’s extremely dangerous to step of your house, please stay home. It is our tradition” Such ignorance!

This is not to opine that we shouldn’t identify with and be proud of our culture & tradition. But how difficult is it to phase out the barbaric & inhumane ones? That the gods & deities require human blood for certain rituals leaves one wondering if they mean well for humans (if there’s any truth in it).

No doubt there’s freedom of choice and association, but when your choice of association poses a direct or indirect harmful effect to other people, then it becomes an unreasonable choice, or as the case may be, a crime. How do we expect progressiveness when we still engage in these cruel activities, it is hypocritical that we, the black race who still complain about the cruel & wicked acts meted out to our fore fathers by the colonial masters back in the day, are the same people who still met out & inflict similar ‘punishment’ on ourselves in the name of culture & tradition.

What choices do we have? Vacate rural areas where these cruelty is still being practiced? For your information, these practices are also right here with us in the cities, and the “perpetrators” threaten to invoke the wrath of the gods on anyone who tries to get in the way of tradition. A shame, and lawlessness at its peak!

How long are we going to keep living in fear from all quarters? Fear of the trigger-happy cop; fear of the unknown soldier; fear of the random ritualist; fear of the armed robber, and fear of the rapist. Even if we believe that these are vices expected to characterise societies, what about the fear of our own culture & tradition?
Culture and tradition are meant to showcase and radiate the rich, enviable and respectable norms, values and customs – an embodiment of pride of any people, not a tool for oppression. It should not be used as an avenue to frustrate further the already frustrated people.

I stand to be corrected, but most of the ‘practitioners’ of the bloody part of these traditions have been uneducated for a long time and have remained so. But the question is “Do we really have to be educated to be wise & civilised?”.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime |  Kiosea39 

Seyi F. Ogunnaike is a product of Industrial Relations & Personnel Management, happily married with kids. Career experience in Insurance and Banking sectors, a lover of music & football, passionate about creative writing and the humorous & positive side of satirism, for me, it’s way of [email protected]


  1. ibukun

    August 22, 2015 at 12:02 am

    Nice write up but the truth is that these cultures would be difficult to eradicate because even the powers that be hold these barbaric cultures in high esteem.

  2. ElessarisEllendil

    August 22, 2015 at 12:51 am

    A. I’ll start with a clarification, I’m not a part of the “black” race that complains about injustice meted out, I’m not ideologically blinkered. We were conquered because we were weak, simple! I’m looking to make my small contribution towards a future when my descendants hopefully have their sweet vengeance.(Yes I’m jingoistic). Hilarious how the Chinese work to prevent another century of humiliation some “Blacks” still stay complaining as if whining ever solved anything.

    B. You only have to live in fear of “culture/tradition” because we have weak institutions. Market places are closed down because the people do not have an institution capable of enforcing the law. People are allegedly murdered to bury others because of the same thing, a lack of strong institutions. Its not a cultural failure, it is a governmental failure, for example staying indoors because of Oro is no different than staying indoors because of rioting, dying for a burial is no different than being stabbed for your wallet e.t.c..

    C. Solution, simple; gather a couple of like-minded friends, across six geo-political zones, form a political party, keep tainted money out of your infrastructure, Campaign intensively across a winnable state, build up your party to national status and change things! Ohh and do all of the above while somehow surviving getting murdered by those loath to relinquish power.

  3. Nahum

    August 22, 2015 at 12:59 am

    The problem with these traditions is there are no government witnesses to these crimes, and other witnesses are intimidated into obedience. We claim to be God fearing Christians and Muslims in this country but the truth is, we are very fetish at heart. We fear juju and shrines more than the word of God and His holy temple. How many of us go to Pastors to tell us who to marry? Fetish!! We are always casting and binding rather than praying and praising. We have to give up the juju in our hearts before we can truly stop these evil traditions.

  4. Naked

    August 22, 2015 at 4:52 am

    It takes a generation of individuals to make a change. When i think of some barbaric acts going on in Nigeria and the passiveness present generation, i cry in my heart. Take the case of the “Aluu 4” which occurred in portharcourt, no one has been brought to book up until this moment for the bestiality of some foolish few.

    Let me use the foolish tradition of killing twins back in the 80’s/90’s as a lodestar… It took a woman in the person of “Mary Slessor” the courage and will to put an end to the killing of twins in calabar. She stood up for her generation to put an end to the evil being perpetrated in the name of a senseless tradition and beliefs.

    “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it – Albert Einstein ”

    We have all failed in this regard starting from our grandparents to our parents and then we the current generation. But it is never too late, we can start now by taking a stand.

  5. The Bull

    August 22, 2015 at 6:27 am

    There are so many traditions we hold on to in Nigeria, that contribute nothing to society. These traditions were created by people that are not more intelligent than us. The world they lived in is totally different from the world we live in now. It is shocking that anyone would take some of these traditions seriously or practice them.

  6. le coco

    August 22, 2015 at 6:30 am

    Honestly when reading about the ooni’s death.. nd the oro.. I was shocked. . Almost thot I was imagining this… in naija? Since when? Haba… I couldn’t believe it…. I was only aware of the Swaziland traditions in which they also kill ppl to bury with the king…(a friend of mine who is from a respected family in Swaziland told me)… but this is just sickening. . Nd nahum is right. . We claim Christianity nd islam.. but you dont have faith that the God we serve is bigger than any fetish…. the government should outlaw this … soonest… because it is murder.. nd it is unacceptable for anybody to take the life of a human being for his selfish beliefs

  7. Wale

    August 22, 2015 at 7:51 am

    The author should state his fact instead of “Them Say”. Where and when did this incident happen ? Sometimes our inability to fully investigate, document and present factual evidence has led to strongly speculation.. The government cannot arrest and prosecute people based on “Won nI” “Them Say” .
    You are entitied to your opinion, not facts

  8. chi chi

    August 22, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Honestly speaking I never knew I could be so enraged by culture. One year once staying on the island I experienced such. The oba of the estate was performing ritual all week and everyone must be in their homes by 11pm as in the gate men wont allow you in the estate after 11pm, and something like till 7am the next morning. Fair enough it wasn’t day time but if you were travelling early to catch your flight, you can forget it. My annoyance was the fact that I like many other people had no idea such a thing even occurs as I had been living abroad and some expats in that estate wouldn’t of been none the wiser but yet you must bend to this rule that has absolutely nothing to do with you.

    Its things like this that annoy me the most and in big cities traditions shouldn’t win over government. I heard different myths for the one happening around me and yes again as a woman I was forbidden to venture out to satisfy my curiosity so again these things remain just that, myths if someone was indeed sacrificed I’ll never know.

  9. Ebebe (pronounced A-bay-bay)

    August 22, 2015 at 10:15 am

    See, culture comes with the good and bad. You know I can’t start educating here but I’ll try to pass across my message clearly. If you want to do away with some certain cultural practices, do away with the culture in general! What sounds babaric to you might not be to others. Others including people in government, I remember saying something about bride price in my women’s studies class and everybody was appalled. My prof called me aside and said “jeez you’re lucky to not have to go through such, I mean your parents trading you, since you’re here, thank the universe.” There was also another incident when I talked on child discipline and the aspect of flogging, not to criticize but to enlighten and some people were in tears when I finished. The government you talk about were also once part of the people. They turn a blind eye because they don’t think it as bad. Every culture and tradition has its good and bad. So if you want to get rid of the downside, then you should get rid of the whole thing.Some things you mentioned like rape et al are not peculiar to any culture, it happens every where! I’m not saying Nigeria’s cultural practices are good or bad, I’m just saying there are two sides to a coin and none can be gotten rid of without the other.

  10. molarah

    August 22, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    The writer lost me when he opined that it was pride that made some tell others to avoid the Oro. Huh? It’s not pride o, it’s fear.

    As a nation, we’ve simply not imbibed value for human life. Death is only important when a celebrity or important person is involved. The killing of one Nigerian due to sectarian (religious or tribal) violence should spark outrage from the populace and a swift effort to fish out and prosecute perpetrators by the government – as is done in developed climes – but how often is that done? Until the nation – starting from the leadership and then moving to the masses – starts to prioritise the well-being of the average Nigerian, this problem may not go anywhere soon.

  11. dtruth

    August 23, 2015 at 1:59 am

    The writer wrote “But how difficult is it to phase out the barbaric & inhumane ones? That the gods & deities require human blood for certain rituals leaves one wondering if they mean well for humans (if there’s any truth in it).”……But in christianity you are saved by the human sacrifice and blood of the son of the christian…but its not fetish and barbaric bcos na oyibo bring the religion and ideology lol what a joke …I mean which loving God allows the sacrifice of his son as appeasement…humans in their wickedness and evil will never give up their own child let alone a divine God……Deluded xtians will soon creep in and start quoting their outdated book that has no meaning except in their consciousness ,…..yes part of the reason the black race is powerless is bcos of the worship of foreign Gods…Go back to tradition..our culture , heritage and divine identitiy…brainwashed educated punks

  12. Kimmy

    August 23, 2015 at 6:55 am

    @ dtruth is ur brain that is outdated.

  13. dtruth

    August 24, 2015 at 2:07 am

    @Kimmy…lol …if you are ready to hold an intellectual debate I am open …once you resort to insults without facts, you have already proved my point …Not only is ur religious book outdated , it contradicts itself from beginning to end and is an insult to reasoning therefore obsolete ….I mean if the sun alone is about 20 galactic years(4.5billion years ) with a life span of about 10billion years , then a brain that belives the earth/world/universe is about 2000 years old and the evidence is based on a book written by unhistorical characters from the middle east who answer caucasian is quite outmoded………wake up its 2015

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