As I was taking care of the task of clipping my fingernails, one of the nails didn’t land in the small garbage can I was clipping them into. I watched the nail fly off then tried to find it but could not. That’s ok though because it helped me think of something I wanted to talk about: superstitions!
My mom might be alone in this but if she’s a typical Nigerian mom (and she is in many ways), then I’d say that Nigerian women are somewhat superstitious. In my family, we grew up knowing there were a few things that she believed in that we never quite took seriously. Whenever she mentions or comments on any of the following, I tell her they’re old wives’ tales, but she isn’t convinced:
- If someone steps on the clipped fingernail of another person, they will have a fight with that person.
- If you serve or pass anything to anyone with your left hand it’s a sign of disrespect. The reason I was given is that that’s the hand you should be using to um, how can I put this delicately, wipe after using the facilities. That’s one thing I actually have internalized and I find when I am serving a Nigerian older than me anything and for some reason I have to use my left hand, I will apologize automatically. I don’t even think about it, it just comes out.
- When I was last in Nigeria 14 years ago and we were at the market, I, jovial and very silly person that I am, started laughing over something. I am not a restrained laugher: when I’m really humoured my laughing can be quite noticeable: loud and high-pitched even. My mom gave me a stern look and told me to stop laughing immediately, lest someone see me and do juju on me.
And on the topic of juju we could talk for hours. It’s not something I know much about, and I’m not even sure if I believe in it, but I’m sure even the skeptics have heard stories that have made you decide to be careful, just in case it’s true…or maybe it’s just me.
So, do you have family members who are superstitious? Are you superstitious? Do you know any superstitions that you’d say are uniquely Nigerian in nature?