Some residents in the Federal Capital Territory on Friday expressed mixed reactions over marrying persons with tribal marks on their faces.
Tribal marks are cultural practice in some parts of Africa, which entails inscription on the body by burning or cutting of the skin during childhood for identification of a person’s tribe, family or patrilineal heritage, and as a symbol of beauty.
In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, some residents said they find tribal marks on the body, particularly on the face attractive, while others said it was repulsive, hence cannot marry any one with it.
Miss Clara Omeiza, a beautician, said even though the practice was fast declining due to cultural interaction and modernization, tribal marks makes the person looks less attractive and unappealing
“As a make-up artist, I find the practice of marking a face repulsive and unattractive.
“Fortunately for us that practice is fast fading as people no longer see the need to mark their child’s face, probably due to other cultural influences or modernization,” she said.
According to her, she cannot date or marry a person that has tribal marks on his face or tattoo on his body.
“I cannot marry a man with tribal marks or tattoo no matter how wealthy or intelligent he is, because for me to even consider marrying someone, I have to atleast find him attractive not repulsive,’’ she said.
Similarly, Mr Ibrahim Adejumo, a civil servant, noted that tribal marks were gradually going into extinction because it was prohibited under the Child Rights Act.
According to him, even Yoruba people that usually place priority in marking their children have largely jettisoned the practice.
“Tribal marks rarely exist now even in the villages, because there are some parts of the Yoruba land that has prohibited the act of marking a child’s face as it attracts a heavy fine or imprisonment for the parents or guardians,’’ he said.
Adejumoh said government should enforce the law prohibiting the act to deter those still practicing it.
According to him, tribal marks affect the personality and development of the child.
“It is a very wicked act and a violation of human right for a parent to mark the face of his or her child in this modern age because we no longer see it as a form of identity or beauty, rather people these days look at it with disdain.’’
Mr Danladi Isa, a teacher said the act of marking a person’s face for tribal identity was archaic and should be abolished, as it makes the child object of ridicule among peers.
“I have a student in my class that has deep etched marks on his face. Most times, you see other children making fun of him and even isolating him from group play.
“As a teacher, I had to make efforts towards educating the children about the history behind tribal marks as a form of identity, as well as teach them that it was wrong to laugh at him.’’
Isa, therefore, urged parents to stop the act as it affects the personality of the children, making them to feel inferior or different from others.
Similarly, Mr Kehinde Sunday, a 23-year-old mechanic who has marks on his face, said it was etched on him by his grandparents because of issues surrounding his birth.
Sunday attributed his failure to further his education after primary school to the ridicule and embarrassment he experienced from peer groups in school and neighbourhood.
“Although I am Yoruba, but I didn’t grow up in my state, I grew up in the north and I was an object of ridicule among my mates because of how deep my tribal marks are,’’ he said.
Sunday said he would not allow any of his children to be subjected to the pains and trauma of tribal marks because of his experience in school.
He advised parents to desist from marking their children’s face due to some form of traditional beliefs.
“I will not allow any of my children to be marked because of the pains I went through, while growing up.
“Even till date, I find it difficult to get a girl that will like me, find me attractive or even marry me because of my tribal marks,’’ he lamented.
According to him, he was saving money to undergo surgery that would reduce or remove the marks permanently from his face.
However, some residents said the African practice of tribal marks should not be abandoned, as it promotes African culture.
Mr Timothy Hassan, a historian, stressed the need for Africans to uphold their cultural values, rather than discarding it in favour of some other cultural beliefs.
“It is so sad that Africans tend to throw away their own ways of life and embrace others, which they feel are superior or better than their own to the detriment of our own cultural practices.
“Tribal marks are beautiful and are symbols of identification, especially when one is in the midst of people from diverse cultures. It shouldn’t be discarded, but should still be practiced.’’
According to him, the act of tribal marks should be made with sterilized equipment to prevent the spread of infection and diseases.
Also, Miss Patience Yakubu, said she does not find tribal marks repulsive, but tolerable as she can marry a person with tribal marks.
“I don’t see anything wrong with been in a relationship or even marrying someone with tribal marks.
“I am more concerned about the character of the person, rather than his physique like tribal marks or any form of deformity,” she said.
Yakubu, therefore, advised the public to desist from judging a person based on his physical appearance, but rather on his character or way of life.