Thursday, June 22, 2023

Taboos (èèwọ̀) and superstitions (àìwọ̀)

Taboos (èèwọ̀) and superstitions (àìwọ̀) are forbidden aspects of everyday life, sacred “rules” that invoke sanctions. Their purpose is to enforce norms and values in the society. 

In folk etymology, taboos and superstitions are known as ohun tí kò wọ̀ (things that are not convenient) and ohun tí kò wọ inú ara (things that do not connect, add up, or dare not agree).

 They moderate moral, social, and psychological behavior or medical purposes. They are collective or individualized.  Some things are forbidden by virtue of the family history.

Sometimes, taboos are a protective social device. The taboo against children not eating in a doorway avoids collisions with someone rushing inside and prevents dust from getting in the food. In addition, taboos protect against activities that could hurt another person  or actions perceived in the culture as unacceptable. 

For example, it is taboo to hit one’s parent. Another taboo forbids a pregnant woman to 
walk alone on a sunny day. Taboos thus guide and guard social life and daily behaviors.

-Micheal Afolayan Oladejo

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