Saturday, 16 February 2008


ONE morning in the late 1960's, six-year-old Danjuma approached his father and insisted that he be given the cuts that Igala citizens wore on their faces with pride. Danjuma felt that he could no longer endure the ridicule of his schoolmates who taunted him for not having the facial marks. Though the cuts were usually administered to Igala infants too young to dread the operation, the boys viewed the marks as a sign of bravery. They regarded those without them as cowards who could not face the knife.

Until then, Danjuma's father had resisted giving his son the facial marks. But that morning, pressured by his son's determination to prove his bravery, he took a knife and made three deep horizontal cuts on each side of the boy's face, slightly above the corners of his mouth.

Danjuma's father knew that the real significance of the cuts had little to do with courage. Instead, the cuts would heal into scars of identification. They would be a permanent 'identity card' that could be neither lost nor forged. They would make his son instantly recognizable to his kinsmen, qualifying him for the rights and privileges of an Igala citizen. But the marks would also set him apart from the more than 250 other ethnic groups in Nigeria.

Should facial marks be [outlawed] made illegal in Nigeria?


peacetee said...

It should not be outlawed,however I think it should be done when children are old enough to understand what is going on. Rather than been done as an infant. At least they would have a choice then.

Anonymous said...

Methinks the consent of the child should be sought first. We cannot say let's through away culture but when folks are tired of a culture I think the community should pay heed. Nice article.

beibee said...

my dad has this ibadan tribal marks; the facial marks are fading by the year. Thankfully, he didn't have any of his children get some facial brands!
i think for some cultures the facial, tribal marks are just some form of if you want to be known as a punk you've got to dress in some sytles, etc.
but should the young children not be involved in the identity mark question?