The Tribal Marking Among the Kanuri People of Borno, Nigeria

Usman Al-amin

Affiliation: Department of History, University of Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria

Keywords: Kanuri, Tribal, Facial Marks, Scar, Borno, Nigeria

Categories: Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, News and Views

DOI: 10.17160/josha.10.1.874

Languages: English

Tribal marks are also known as facial scarification was a long cultural heritage that has been in practice in various ethnic groups in Nigeria. The Kanuri of Borno is not an exception to this traditional practice. These unique marks cannot only be seen in the face alone rather they can be seen in another part of the body including the belly. The cultural practice of facial marks has been performed among the Kanuri of Borno for several reasons which include fashion, identification of culture, security, beauty, and inordinate self-esteem. Apart from these, it is also very similar to today’s International Passport for the Kanuri wherever they found themselves Abubakar (2017). The process of marking face starts from the early stage in life especially during the infant stage and when the child grows discovers the cultural symbol on his face that represents its history, tribe, and origin. The facial scars vary from one ethnic group to another. Kanuri people encompasses subgroups and dialect groups and some of them feel distinct from each other that is exactly what classifies them into different clan and dialect distinctions. The objectives of the paper are to examine tribal marks among the Kanuri in Borno, its history, classifications, and significance in society. The article is ethnographic research that employed both primary and secondary sources of data. The paper shows that Kanuri ethnic groups have more than one facial mark and classify them under group and subgroup. It is through these tribal marks that one can be identified which part of the Kanuri clan, family, or patrilineal heritage he/she belongs to. The study also indicates that the tribal marks could also be used not only to trace the original homeland of a particular Kanuri man but also for fashion, identification, security, beauty, and inordinate self-esteem.

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