It was fun growing up in the 90’s before the advent of internet in Nigeria. I remember how my siblings and I entertained ourselves back then whenever we got tired of watching our black and white TV. We would gather round our grandmother and she would tell us stories. The ones I enjoyed the most were the adventures of tortoise -how it came about its patched shell, why the tortoise is bald and so on. I would listen with rapt attention and swallow whatever I heard hook, line and sinker. In the course of this, I heard a lot of myths and superstitions about life. For instance I was told that when it’s raining and the sun is shining at the same time, a lion is giving birth. Another one is if you kick the ground with your right foot it is ill luck; you have to make sure you do same on your left foot to guarantee your good luck. Several of these myths have subconsciously been ingrained in the society.
There are myths surrounding food as well. Every nationality has its own myths about food. For example, some believe that after cracking an egg, the shells should be crushed. Otherwise, they would be gathered by a witch who will then use the shells to make a boat for herself. Err; I thought witches flew about in the air. Another one is that garlic repels vampires and werewolves.
In Nigeria, children fall victim the most to these superstitions; while some are used to teach a lesson or prevent hazards in the home, others are just downright silly. Here are some of them…..
- If you swallow a seed, it would grow on your head: Used to tell a child to be extra careful when eating fruits and not swallow the seeds. I heard this from my mum. I’m sorry to say Mama but you were wrong *evil laughter*.
- Food dropped on the floor: I learnt that foods that have dropped on the floor should not be picked and eaten because the devil has already tasted it. This was a real terror for me back then especially whenever I ate biscuits, I was extra careful. Phew, how about our folks lecturing us about germs and diseases.
- Coconut water: One of the common myths back then was that drinking coconut water made your brain dull. Well, they were wrong. Coconut water has several health benefits which include blood pressure reduction, preventing kidney stones, boosting hydration, facilitating digestion and so on.
- Beans make one tall: Used to encourage children to eat beans so they can grow tall. While beans is a good source of protein which is the body’s building block, height is genetic.
- Fish eyes: This is another myth that folks made us believe in. They say if you eat the fish’s eye you would have big eye balls. Some also said the fish eye makes one dull. Experts say fish eyes especially mackerel family contain unsaturated fatty acid. This helps to stimulate the brain cells and improve memory.
- Pope’s nose or Chicken butt: This one I heard from an aunt. According to her, you would become a world class gossip if you eat this. Well, I still eat chicken butt. However, it should be eaten in moderation because it’s high in fat.
- Pawpaw seeds: I heard if you swallow pawpaw seeds you’d have goiter. I don’t know about that but pawpaw seeds crushed and taken with food can help in management of diabetes.
- Drumsticks are for dads: As children, the chicken parts we were restricted to was the feet, wings, neck and other less meaty parts. We were made to understand that only Dads ate chicken laps.
Well, these are some I know. I bet there are many others. Let’s hear yours in the comment box.