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I happened to overhear a woman caution her child’s indiscretion by telling him some ridiculous stories with a nasty consequence, I giggled to myself because it reminded me of some myths I heard while growing up. In Nigeria, we had our own version of fairy tales – mostly superstitions, I would say, some were very amusing, while others were just downright bizarre. These crazy stories purported actions that had severe consequences if one does not abide by them – and till date, I’m sure we still believe some of them. Let’s take a look at some of the hilarious and thrilling tales we heard while growing up. Throwing your teeth on the roof Well, we certainly had a peculiar kind of fairytale. When a child loses a tooth in the western world, they are told to put the teeth under the pillow for a tooth fairy to pick it up. But in Nigeria, we were told to throw it up to the roof of our house with a wish attached to it. This happens especially with the milk teeth or ‘baby’ teeth. Sweeping at night Am still trying to figure out the logic in this one. It was said that if you swept at night, you’ll be sweeping away your future wealth,  it was also a sign of bad luck. Looking at the mirror in the night Ok, this scared me for decades, I almost developed a phobia for mirrors. This myth has it that at night mirrors are a gateway to the underworld – like the spirit world, and if you look in the mirror you will see these spirits which would somehow feed on your energy, inviting you to them – I can’t believe I bought this story. Looking at your shadow at night Asides looking in the mirror, it was also said one should never look at their shadow at night, it could lead to bad dreams or even worse. Whistling at night Whistling at night was a ‘No’ ‘No’ because you just might be waking the dead and calling them to you – creepy. Another belief was that if you whistle at night you’re sending a signal to snakes and they would find their way to your house. Crossing the middle fingers to ward off anything evil When walking past someone with evil intent, it was believed that one should cross their fingers, this would block any form of wicked intentions and protect the person. Sticking your red eyelid out of your eyes Here’s another ridiculous one. It was believed that if you brought out the red soft-tissue of eyelid out of your eyes and a housefly perch on it, you would go blind – seriously? Anyways some people deserved this story LOL, never understood why they even did that, it was weird. Looking at the mirror in the market or looking under your leg in the market All these mirror stories though. It was said that if you looked in the mirror when someone was making your hair in the market, you would see more than the hands of the person making your hair – meaning some invisible spirits were also making your hair SMH. Also, the belief that if you looked under your leg in the market, a spirit would come to you, so when you dropped something and wanted to pick it up, you had to do your best not to stare under your leg. Eating in the dark Don’t eat in the dark because you will be inviting spirits to eat with you too– amazing story. Crossing over someone lying down It was believed that if you were lying down and someone crosses over you, you won’t grow tall again, and in some cases, your future child might be affected with the person’s habits too. I remember how many times I had to cross back to avoid or cancel the effect. Madam koi koi So if you were a boarder during your secondary school days, then you must be familiar with this legendary tale. Madam koi koi wins the medal of popular stories told at boarding schools back then. One version has it that there was a wicked teacher who asked a student to make her hair, and somehow during the making of the hair she broke her neck and died. She then blames the girl and comes every night to look for revenge with her shoe sounding koi, koi, koi and if you hear it ‘lobatan’ – which means you are finished. There are still several other versions of this myth. Bush-babies Another scary story used on boarders in secondary school to get them to observe their night sleep. Now I can’t tell how bush babies originated, but the story says that their cry is like that of a baby, and they usually cry in the middle of the night – the cry is a pretence to get you to come out and help them. And since you would think it’s a baby you would go outside, but then you will see an animal with red eyes and a mouth full of razor-like teeth, and that will be the end of you because no one will see you ever again. Some say it drags the victim away to an unknown place, while others say it eats the victim right there, either way, you die right? No wonder we are a society of scared people. All that abuse in the name of what? Please, which of these myths did you hear while growing up? Any other one you think we missed? Do let us know by sharing in the comment box. Thanks.      

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This article was first published on 23rd November 2017


Becky Onoise is a psychologist, chocolate junkie, and puppy lover. A writer who is sorry... not sorry about correcting your grammar. She's a word enthusiast and aims to achieve her goals. Instagram handle @mz_berkey

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