Video: Top 10 Unusual African Traditional Practices

A list of ten strange and fascinating traditional practices that are still observed in various African cultures today.

1. Lip Plate Piercing

Lip Plate Piercing

A practice still observed by the Mursi and Suri tribes of Ethiopia and South Sudan, where young girls have their lower lips pierced and stretched over time to accommodate a clay or wooden plate, as a sign of beauty and womanhood.

2. Scarification


A form of body modification common in many African tribes, where intricate patterns are cut into the skin with a knife or razor blade, and allowed to heal into raised scars that serve as a form of identity and status symbol.

3. Okuyi Initiation

Okuyi Initiation

A rite of passage for young men in the Bwiti religion of Gabon, where they consume large amounts of the hallucinogenic plant iboga and dance for hours, in order to commune with ancestors and gain spiritual insight.

4. Wodaabe Gerewol

Wodaabe Gerewol

A beauty contest held by the Wodaabe tribe of Niger, where young men dress up in elaborate makeup, costumes and dance moves to impress the judges, and potentially win a bride.

5. Hyena Men

Hyena Men

A group of men in Nigeria who have formed a bond with hyenas, and keep them as pets and performers, often entertaining tourists and locals with daring stunts.

6. Bull Jumping Ceremony

Bull Jumping Ceremony

A ritual performed by young men of the Hamer tribe of Ethiopia, where they must run, jump and land on the backs of several bulls, as a test of strength and bravery, before they can marry.

7. Himba Hair Care

Himba Hair Care

A unique hair care routine followed by the Himba women of Namibia, where they use a mixture of red ochre, butter and herbs to cleanse and condition their hair, which is then styled in intricate braids and adorned with jewelry.

8. Mbalax Music

Mbalax Music

A popular music genre in Senegal, characterized by its fast-paced rhythms, heavy percussion, and socially conscious lyrics, often used to express political and cultural issues.

9. Khoisan Click Language

Khoisan Click Language

A group of languages spoken by the Khoisan peoples of southern Africa, characterized by their use of click consonants, which are produced by sucking air into the mouth and releasing it with the tongue.

10. Rainmaking Rituals

Rainmaking Rituals

A practice still observed by many African tribes, where shamans or rainmakers perform elaborate rituals involving dance, song and sacrifice, in order to invoke rain and ensure a good harvest.