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Tribal marks on children, infringement on human rights

BBC PHOTO

BBC PHOTO

Many parents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have frowned at the inscription of tribal marks on the faces of children, describing it as archaic, and an infringement on their fundamental human rights.

Some of the parents who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja said that parents inscribed marks on their children during the pre-colonial era for easy identification.

Mr John Aderogba, the Principal, Faith Academy Day Secondary School, Kubwa said tribal marks was used to identify an individual from a certain clan during the war.

Aderogba stated that the marks made it easier for people to locate their homes, and communities after being taken away by the colonial masters.

“Those days, parents give tribal marks to their children at the age of nine or ten, and maybe at the age of 24 the person finds his way out of slavery, the only way he could find his way back then, was through the tribal mark.

“The tribal marks were given according to each person’s clan majorly in Kwara, Osun and Oyo states then.

“But we discovered that the issues that brought about tribal marks are no longer there, nobody is doing any slave trading again.

“No need to deface that your innocent child; and that issue also violates human rights, because the time these marks are given to the children, it is without their consent,” he said.

According to the principal, people understand better, are more enlightened in the modern times and can sue their parents for such acts even as far back as 30 years.

He said that people their parents gave tribal marks in the olden days disliked it, but were left with little or nothing much to do.

Mr Edward Abalaka, a public servant with tribal marks on his face, said he did not inscribe marks on the faces of his children, adding that it would have amounted to inflicting pain on them.

“I was given tribal marks during the civil war period, and it was used to differentiate a particular tribe from another.

“As we continue to grow, things changed and tribal marks could be compared to the awkward way of circumcision in the olden days on the male children, but gone are those days.

“You as a parent will even pity the children you give birth to now, and for that you will be so careful not to use a razor or knife to make a mark on them.

“As a young boy, I felt the pain and it will not be right to do so to our children now,” Abalaka said.

He, however, said that the marks had not made him feel inferior in the society; rather people easily identified his tribe.

Mrs Felicia Idowu, a nurse with the Daughters of Charity Hospital Kubwa, who also has tribal marks on her face, said tribal marks on the faces of children in recent times would make their peers make jest of them often.

Idowu noted that such incisions on a child could make him withdrawn from the society, adding that it could affect the developmental process of the child.

According to her, reasons for tribal marks on the faces of people born in the 1950’s and 60s is for easy recognition of where they hail from which is understood.

She said that nothing justified tribal marks on the faces of children in recent times than describing it as a violation on the rights of such an individual.

Grace Ferdinard, a staff with a travel agency, said tribal marks were not important, adding that people could still identify their relatives with or without the marks.

“Parents don’t need to mark the faces of their children, because even if the person travels out of the country and stay there for over two or three decades, he can still be identified.

“These days we have different technological gadgets through which contacts and communications are made with relatives, irrespective of the distance or where they may be,” she said.

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Tribal marks
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