Tribal Marks: The 21st Century Significance.

What do you do when you get to see a marked face?

Uncle Sholle came on a visit and carried my brother, barely 5 years old. As Uncle Sholle brought him close to chest, he suddenly began to cry. I wondered on earth what would make the young boy cry as Uncle Sholle had not hurt him. He just had lunch and was playing a while ago too. I asked Uncle Sholle to bring him over and while I tried to clean off the tears on his face, he spoke out, "Ojuju Calabar".

Now, I remember the painting we once made of the scary face, punctuated with many irregular lines on the cheek to scare my kid brother anytime he went naughty and I looked up. Uncle Sholle had tribal marks, the kind we call "abaja". I burst into laughter...

Many other stories exist of the tribal mark. I recall the after school hours during my primary school days where we dread to go through Iya Laniya's compound because her tribal marked face made us believe she was witchy. Some of us who never lived near a marked face, believed she had a masquerade-ancestral relationship. Our English "Reader" did not help out as we read through a number of comprehension passages that involved tribal marks, masquerades and the local tradition generally.

Tribal Marks and Tattoos
Times have evolved and we have replaced traditions. But then, what exists instead of the tribal marks?
Tattoos have practically chosen to take a seat in our millenium. The 21st Century individual takes the culture of


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