Yesterday’s tribal mark, Today’s tattoo

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As old cultural practices gradually fade, contemporary lifestyle is rapidly taking over.

And what how is this lifestyle affecting lives?  It has exposed Nigerian youths to Western culture which is sometimes at odds with Nigeria’s values and beliefs. This can be observed in our dress and food culture as well as societal interactions.

The erosion of African values are further complicated because the world is now a global village and according to sociologists, no one can shield themselves from being influenced.

A veritable example of how modernity is ebbing Nigerian traditions can be duly observed in the perception and acceptance of Tattoo and tribal marks. Jumia Travel, Africa’s No 1 Hotel Booking Portal looks at how body art reflect cultural changes in Nigeria from one generation to another.

Tribal Marks

In the past tribal marks were an integral part of Nigerian culture. It was common to see persons with distinct patterns or marks on their faces. These tribal marks are not mere art forms.

According, to cultural enthusiasts, the marks usually made on the face and arms  were used to identify an individual’s personality, family or tribe with questioning them.

For example, the Ibadan people from Oyo in South-West Nigeria carried 4 horizontal lines drawn with a sharp object on each cheek. The same goes for other tribal groups in Nigeria.

The trend may be disappearing among the younger generation who think it an ancient tradition but it’s important to note that it has played a significant role in African culture for centuries and may be around for even much longer.



Young men and women, celebrities, and On screen personalities, to mention but a few, are  drawn to wearing tattoos especially as they come in different patterns and they are quite fashionable. In spite of this, some people consider individuals who wear body art irresponsible.

The embrace of tattoos especially among the youths shouldn’t be surprising because tattoos are clearly portrayed in American movies and western pop culture music videos.

No matter the side of the divide you belong, making a fashion statement is pertinent. But, what kind of fashion statement are you making?

Tribal Marks and Tattoos are running parallel. Both show the generational gap between the aged and the young. Bridging this gap seems impossible as modernity continue to rage like wildfire consuming almost all Nigerian  traditional and cultural practices that were once held dear to our hearts.

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