African culture, 10 curious traditions

Kidnapping the bride

In the Latuka tribe of Sudan, when a man wants to marry a woman, he kidnaps her. The older members of his family go to ask the girl's father for his hand in marriage, and if the father agrees, he strikes the suitor as a sign of acceptance of the union. If the father does not agree, however, the man can forcefully marry the woman anyway

Khweta Ceremony

This Southern African ceremony is practiced by several tribes and is the way children demonstrate their virility. When they come of age, the boys are sent to spend several days or weeks in the circumcision hut during the winter, where they are subjected to rigorous tests and often dangerous rituals, such as continuous dancing until exhaustion and circumcision.

Pricing the Bride

Lobola is an old and controversial tradition in Southern Africa in which the families of the bride and groom negotiate the amount the groom should pay for the bride. All negotiations must be done in writing, neither by phone nor in person. The two families cannot even speak to each other until the negotiations are complete.

Bull Jumping

In order to prove their manhood in the Hamer tribe of Ethiopia, young children must run, jump and land on the back of a bull before they have to do so on several bulls. They do this several times, and usually naked.

The groom wears a veil

The Ahaggaren Tuaregs of Algeria are part of a group of Berber-speaking Tuaregs. In their culture, men wear a veil almost all the time. However, they can take the veil off when they are with the family or while traveling.

Wealth is measured by cows

In the Pokot tribe in Kenya, wealth is measured by the number of cows a family has. Most Pokot people are either "corn people" or "cow people", which means that this is what they grow on their land, but all Pokot people measure their wealth in cows. The number of women a man can marry is determined by the number of cows he has.

Living with animals

The Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania have strict policies against the killing of wild animals. They keep livestock and farm animals, but do not touch wild animals. In fact, each clan is associated with a wild species, which often lives near them and treats it as a member of the clan.

Red Sunscreen

The Himba people of northern Namibia cover their skin with a mixture of butterfat and ochre, a natural earth pigment that contains iron oxide to protect it from the sun. For that reason, the Himba people seem to have a red skin tone.


The San people of Botswana, also called Bushmen, are hunter-gatherers who were evicted from their ancestral lands in the 1950s. The San switched to agriculture but deprived of the ability to hunt, the number of San decreased.

Overcoming the suitor

The Fulani tribe lives in many West African countries and follows a tradition called Sharo. Sharo happens when two young men want to marry the same woman. To compete for the bride, they beat each other up. The men must avoid the signs of pain and the one who carries the blows without showing signs of pain is the one who can take her as his wife.

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