Taboos In Igboland

Regardless of the tribe you represent, there will always be something you must never do in some places lest you incur the wrath of the gods. Taboos have been in African societies for a very long time.


The IGBO tribe is one of three major tribes in Nigeria, a country in western Africa. They have a rich cultural background and are incredibly industrious and innovative. Even though society seems to be erasing so many traditional values, the IGBO people have unique cultures that must not be mocked. Certain topics are frowned upon throughout the whole IGBO continent.


Cultural taboos called ‘Nso’ are enshrined in the law of the land ‘Iwu Odi Na ala’. So, if you're curious about what TABOOS are: A taboo is something that has been forbidden because to its sacredness or to shield the members of a community from the wrath of the gods and the authorities. Let's look at 10 things that are forbidden in Igboland:


1.  Eating or killing pythons is prohibited in some communities in Igboland: In Imo State and Eke-Idemili in Anambra State, the killing of ‘eke’ pythons is prohibited. They’re considered to be ancestors and forefathers that died and reincarnated. If such happen by mistake, a proper burial must be done for the python or the killer face the consequences. 

2.  Committing adultery is frowned upon: Although elders discourage premarital sex, fornication is nothing in Igboland and does not incur the wrath of the gods. But infidelity by a married woman is even worse, and both the gods and the local elders ban it. In some places such as Enugu-Ezike in Enugu State, it is thought that committing adultery can cause a woman to go insane or insane, and if a man has reason to believe his wife has committed adultery, he must never taste the food she prepares lest he become a participant in her punishment by the gods.

3.   Suicide or killing oneself: It is forbidden in Igbo land to kill oneself or commit suicide, and it is so despised by both humans and gods that the body of a suicide victim is never buried there. In order to stop similar tragedies from happening to future members of the community, his remains must be buried outside the town, in the Forbidden Forest, or both.

4. A woman blessing the kolanut: In Igbo territory, kolanut is revered as a sacred nut. In any ceremonial context, it is illegal for women to plant, pluck, or break the kola nut.  This is not because women are viewed as less valuable than males; rather, it is due to the high degree of sanctity given to the kola nut in Igbo nation, which is expected to be treated with great care. In the absence of a guy, they are still allowed to break the kola nut, just not in the same way as in regular gatherings. 

5. Committing incest: It is forbidden to have sex with blood relatives or sisters who share the same parents. Everyone in the town disapproves of this, and no one should ever do it since, in the opinion of the local elders, it could lead to blindness, deafness, poverty, or even death.

6. Using the left hand: Regardless, whether a person is left-handed, using the left hand for anything is completely prohibited in Igboland. A left-handed person is taught or guided to utilise the right hand when delivering and receiving items. Elders strongly disapprove of using the left hand when giving or receiving something because they view it as disrespectful and rude.

7. Unblessed marriage union: A woman is not allowed to cohabitate with a man without going through the necessary wedding rituals or without their parents' full consent. Before or soon after moving in together, a respected man is expected to pay his wife's dowry or bride-price; otherwise, the woman will lose her respect in the community and risk problems like poverty, retrogression, sickness, and death, among other things.

8.  Marrying an Osu is prohibited and should never be done since Osu are regarded outcasts within the caste system. An Osu, or pariah, is never to be offered or taken in marriage since they are thought to be the gods' property, slaves, or descendants of slaves. Before entering into a marriage, free-born men and women are supposed to look into a person's background and social standing to make sure they are not an Osu.

9.  Causing an elder to fall: Causing an elder to fall from his seat or drop from his feet is considered a taboo, and the offender must slaughter a goat as part of a ritual in order to avoid having his age ever reach the current level. To purify the area and atone for the criminal, a goat or any other required object must be supplied. No matter what the circumstance, a child or someone younger should never be the one to bring an adult to their knees.

10. Whistling at night: It is forbidden to whistle at night because it is thought to attract evil spirits who prowl the night and draw snakes into the residence. In Igboland, whistling at night is strictly prohibited and should never be attempted; failure to do so will result in a severe reprimand from the community elders.