Nigerian People and Culture: The Sharo Tradition

According to Ellen Goodman, “Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe, aren’t even aware of.” Nigeria as we all know is blessed with hundreds of beautiful cultures and traditions. Although quite a number of them gradually face extinction as a result of modernization, religion and other vices, there exist some that are still strongly rooted in our present day clime. A large number of populace find it difficult to participate in these cultural practices due to various reasons. Some refer to it as archaic while others believe it is against their faith.

As Johan Huizinga rightly puts it, “If we are to preserve culture we must continue to create it.” Sustaining our culture and tradition in West Africa at large and Nigeria in particular has been a daunting task. Nowadays, we find individuals who have no idea of what their culture, festivals or traditions are. As a result of enlightenment, vast number of citizens migrate from their community to others, rural to urban, for different reasons, mostly economical. This migration has led to the breakdown of intra-communal relationship and enforcement of cultural values and knowledge in offsprings. Klaus Schulze noted that “we are all part of a tradition, at least we depend on the past.” How do you protect the beauties in the past if we fail to recognize the importance in the past?

In Northern Nigeria, there exist a cultural practice known as ‘The Sharo Tradition.’ Mostly practiced by the Fulani nomads, sharo which means flogging aims at inflicting body pains on participants in view of testing their peak of endurance. The sharo festival is a major event which breeds excitement as young unmarried men gear up to display their bravery in unimaginable and excruciatingly painful ways. The tradition is eagerly anticipated by participant as it holds twice a year in the Fulani settlement. Sometimes international audience come to watch and enjoy this display of courage and endurance while we fail to appreciate our own.

Sharo festival is also about family image. During the festival, single men are escorted by very beautiful unmarried ladies to the assigned or designated area of battle. While the flogging continues, the family of the contestant anxiously watch and silently hope and pray that their son is able to withstand and endure the pains. It is deemed a disgrace to the family if their sons fail to endure for a long time while the family of the bravest is shown massive respect.

Sharo tradition is also known by many as a medium through which the best suitor for a woman is determined. When two men are vying for the same woman, both are asked to compete for the hand of the woman by beating themselves up. The woman is then given as wife to the man who is able to endure and take the most beating while also displaying the least or no sign of pain. To quote Jacques Derrida “everything is arranged so that it be this way, this is what is called culture.” Many regard these practices as barbaric but culture is a way of life. The Fulani’s have accepted and protected the sharo tradition for decades. Sharo tradition is a show of courage, endurance, honour and great respect for the culture laid down by the ancestors.



If you like this article, please share with others
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments