Story By:Lanlehin Titilope Elizabeth
Tribal mark is one of the cultural believe which is common in Nigeria, in most part of South West particulaly among Yoruba tribe.
Tribal marks are scarifications which are specific identification and beautification marks designed on the face or body of the people mostly from childhood.
The tribal marks are part of West Africa culture and are usually inscribed on the body by burning or cutting of the skin during childhood. The primary function of the tribal marks is for identification of a person’s tribe, family or patrilineal heritage.
Other secondary functions of the marks are symbols of beauty, creativity and keeping mischievous children alive (ila Abiku). This practice is popular amongst Yoruba people of Nigeria, Benin, and Togo.
During the trans-atlanctic slave trade, tribal identification and facial stripes became important. Some repatriated slaves later reunited with their communities by looking at facial stripes.
Under the Child ‘s Right Act 2003 section 24;
(1) No person shall tattoo or make a skin mark or cause any tattoo or skin mark to be made on a child.
(2) A person who tattoos or makes a skin mark on a child commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five thousand Naira or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or to both such fine and imprisonment.
In those days our fathers believed that tribal mark is for clan identification during War and also to check if intending coupled are from the same family, it is also a form of beautification and also for superstitious believe.
Just in the name of culture, parents have put permanent marks on the skin of their children, not considering the terrible consequences that follows it like, some painful swellings that are disfiguring and brings serious psychological problems that may affect the child ‘s socailisation, Infections such as Hepatitis, Tetanus, Hiv/Aids that may occur due to unsterilised instrument used for the cuttings.
For crying out loud, why would a parents or family member, whatsoever the case may be want to put the life of their child in danger that may lead to death in the name of skin mark.
Today, we are in the 21st century, things have Changed there are different ways of beautification, technology has set in and we also have different ways of identification so this horrible scarification should be put to an end on Children.
It should not be given to the Child until he/she is matured enough to Weigh the implications of bearing such mark and then decide if he/she wants it or not. The best interest of the Child should be put into consideration in Matters that concerns him/her.
Thank God the government have enacted The law against tribal marks and tattoo or any form of skin mark on a child but we need it to be effective and due punishment should be faced by whoever Commit such offence.
Campaign should also be made for sensitisation of the Public and to advocate for social change and creating awareness for the master through the use of indigenous media for the illiterate and modern media for the literate in the society.