Yoruba Tribal Marks

Juju Films

As a child I was fascinated with tribal marks, something about it appealed to me, maybe both my parents having tribal marks was part of the fascination.

There are a couple of narratives around the origin of tribal marks in Yoruba land. One narrative is how Sango started the practice using marks to reward or discipline his slaves, eventually realizing how beautiful it was favored the practice. Tribal marks were also used for identifying origins of slaves during the slave trade, not unlike the branding of cattle.
When I was about 14 years old, I told my mother I wanted tribal marks, this thought was triggered due in part to the events in my community. I wanted something that could make me easily identifiable in case of pending ethnic crisis. My mother understood my thinking and her way of getting me informed was to have me witness an Akomola (informal…

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