Before the institution of mainstream legal systems, Africans had long enacted their own ways of decreeing justice and safeguarding the well-being of people in their tribe and neighbourhood.

An injustice would usually be quelled with the help of elders or tribal leaders. The accuser would use the proper channels to lodge a complaint or problem with the accused, then customary practices would be used to rectify the situation.

The introduction of Western law practices has changed how some Africans get the justice they feel they deserve. Others, however, have stuck to the olden ways and still practice to this day.

Infidelity

In some African societies such as Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, there are methods used to counter extra-marital relationships.

In South Africa, there is a spell called muthi; which is often placed on women.  It is made to ensure that if someone other than the husband tries to have sex with her, he will remain stuck until the husband returns.

In Kenya, there are two types :

“There is one that makes the man’s member go lame every time he is with a woman who isn’t his wife. The woman can apply the potion on the man’s member, others put it in food or rub it in the man’s boxers,” according to Martin Mulwa, a lawyer from Kenyan town, Ukambani.

The other type is “the one which a woman or man applies on the boxers or panties of the spouse and when either engages in extramarital sex, they get stuck. The antidote has to come from a real medicine man because there are a lot of fake specialists.”

There are also unique types of this ritual practised throughout Africa.

Theft

By tradition, if an item or money comes up missing in Africa, there are procedures used to find the offender.

The video below is an alleged incident of theft in which a local medicine man conducted his own investigation to catch the thief.

Marriage

Dipo is a rite of passage practised in the Eastern region of Ghana.  The traditional festival is carried out by the residents of Odumase-Krobo.

Upon announcement of the festival, mothers send their daughters to the chief priest.

A set of rituals and tests commence that determine if the girls are allowed to participate in the festival.

The girls have their heads shaved, wrapped with a cloth from their waist that reaches their knees and are given a bath by the chief priest.

The next morning the chief pours libations and asks for blessings for the girls. The girls’ feet are washed with the blood of a goat in hopes of cleansing them from a spirit of sterility.

The girls are then directed to sit on the sacred stone, called “Tekpete”. If found to be pregnant or unchaste, they are ostracized by their community and aren’t able to marry any man from the tribe.

 

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