Growing up in an African household means growing up with many myths and misconceptions; stories that keep us up at night, and can even be the backbone of some of our morals and beliefs
By Sharon Chidra Jonah
August 02, 2022
In fact, some of these stories spread across the borders of Africa, and it's a wonder how human beings make up stories that will span for generations. The funny thing is, even though some of these stories are blatant lies or have no credibility, we will still believe and even take them to the next generation and the generation after. It's what we call culture.
So, here are some of the lies we were told growing up but still believe.
If you were never told to eat beans so can grow tall, are you really Nigerian? It was a mantra our parents repeated every week to coerce us into eating beans. Too bad beans rate as one of the most hated foods in Nigeria. But sad news for our Nigerian parents, while beans are a nutritious and proteinous meal with so many health benefits like aiding the build of our muscles, reducing risks of cancer and heart attacks, being a good source of folate, aiding digestion, and containing many nutrients; they, unfortunately, do not make people grow.
Although, there is a type of beans that helps you grow tall and this is where the confusion begins, but that will be a post for another day.
I’m sorry, but this is something I still believe. Saying the name 'snake' or hissing at night is seen as a bad omen in Nigeria. Somehow, hissing is the language of snakes and your hissing can beckon snakes. This myth, however, doesn't tell us why the snake only appears at night. Whether the snake is several houses away or on another street, it doesn’t matter. When you hiss, they will hear you and will think you are calling them, as the Harry Potter that you are.
This is one lie that hit close to home for many people and sometimes can hurt the most. Imagine being blessed with pimples when you are twelve and in the middle of your teens, people keep telling you to endure and wait it out and in your twenties, your face will be clear and free of acne. So through your teens, you suck it in and ignore that auntie from church who saw you and said, “What happened to your face!” Now, you are in your mid-twenties, and guess what? You still have acne. Acne comes as a result of puberty and like other things that come with puberty, it stays after your teen years, only that we don’t want it. Most times, acne fades away naturally after your teen years and for others, it stays during adulthood and needs treatment and a skincare routine to fight it. The solution, however, is to always find the right treatment for yourself.
Diamonds aren’t rare. If you have an expensive diamond necklace sitting in your jewellery box and you are thinking of making it your family heirloom because of how expensive they are, sorry to burst your bubbles but compared to other gemstones, diamonds are more common. In fact, gold is rarer than diamonds. What makes diamonds expensive and so valuable is the control mining international corporations like De Beers have over them in entering the market. Some gemstones rarer than diamonds include ruby, opal, emeralds –and my personal favourites– sapphires and red beryls. ( although I don’t own any) However, one of the rarest diamonds and gemstones in the world is the red diamond.
I question people who still believe this? Well, it’s a myth that has been passed down for many generations and would definitely be passed unto the next. Apparently, it’s even worse when it’s a pregnant woman because there’s an 80% chance her child will look like you. Imagine someone you don’t like walking over you. If that’s the case, Rihanna should have walked over my mom's legs!
There are many myths, lies and misconceptions out there that we were told growing up, and while we couldn't cover all, we know you might have stories of your own. So, what lie were you told growing up that people still believe in? We would love to know!