FOOD TABOOS AND SUPERSTITION IN ANI-NRI WEST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, ENUGU STATE A CASE STUDY OF NENWE

CHAPTER ONE

 INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

According to Ofianwani (1991), food Taboos is defined as prohibition against certain kinds of good in a particular area, violation of which is believed to be punishable automatically by supernatural means. These taboos and superstition affect the general well being of Nenwe people in Ani-Nri West Local Government Area by their being selective of what food they eat.

          Certain factors can lead to good nutritional status of a place, this may be knowingly or unknowingly. The nutritional standard can be poor whether the people are rich or poor. Among these bad influencing factors is “ignorance”. They do not know the nutritive content of different food.

          Bende (1992), observed that taboos and superstition are one of the factors that affect the food habit of a particular people and this food habit has an adverse effect on the nutritional standard of Nenwe people which they believe are handed to them by their forefathers. They hold all sorts of unfounded belief about food. Many of the beliefs are so unfounded that the believers cannot answer anything when they are asked why hold this belief. The only answer will be, of course “I don’t know” or oh! it has been from the beginning. Our great grand fathers told us not to eat those foods. How can I alter what they said or did.

          According to Scott [1999), there are beliefs concerning certain food which make some people avoid eating them. Few examples, taboo connected with eating of eggs by young children and women (pregnant mother) in particular, is almost universal in African perhaps stemming from greed on the part of men. There is also a taboo about eating of the flesh of certain animals such as snail, bat, tortoise, elephants, monkeys etc by expectant mothers. It is significant that taboos in general, are placed on very important foods with valuable food nutrients and this has for a longtime, have adverse effects on the nutritional health of people in many parts of the world.

          Experiences of starvation and malnutrition during the Nigerian civil war necessarily broke many taboos and superstition connected with food, of the high nutritive value of some prohibited local food stuffs.

          It is obvious, our great grand fathers were not literate. They even hardly educated, uncivilized persons. The innate tendencies could be equated to those of animals instrincts. They had no scientific foundation and did not discover any food and equipment about food and therefore had many beliefs.

          But nowadays, we are sufficiently educated, we can differentiate good from evil, we can educate other. More so, we can experiment, test, find out the hypothesis, evaluate and then make out conclusion. If this is the case, why should we continue with these food taboos and superstitions beliefs. More education on basic nutrition is necessary to help affect a change on peoples attitude towards our cheap, locally produced, easily available good food. They should also be taught methods of preparing these foods. Lack of knowledge of food preparation also affect nutritional standard of people.

          In view of all these, the researcher has deemed it necessary to embark on his study whose main objective is to find out why religion and tradition inspite of the civilization and educational standard of our people have so far attained, should continue to influence food taboos.

          The study also intends to make the people realize the fact that it is very difficult to provide the body with the essential nutrients if food is strictly based on ones likes and dislikes and that there is always the tendency to omit foods that are of high nutritive values in the cause of these taboos. So it is worthwhile they know about nutrition and why they should eat certain foods they do not eat. Good nutrition is meant for every body irrespective of sex, age, place and condition. There is no need for having such beliefs that will only partition food nutrients to certain grades of people. All food nutrients are meant to every body’s consumption.

 1.2STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS

The statement of problems for the topic under study “food taboos and superstition” could be itemized under the following indices:- The orthodox beliefs and practices of peoples in the society, acts against the proper nutrition of the people. The problem of biasness and prejudices over some certain food stuffs makes the people vulnerable to choice of likes and dislikes.

The peoples have the inability to understand the relevance of various food nutrients, where the various nutrients could be found and it important to the health of the people both old and young. There is the problem of multiplicities in the doctrine of our Christian denominations. For instance, the Seventh days Adventist, forbids crayfish while Sabbath church worshipers abhor the eating of some red meats. There is a barrier to proper nutrition and subsequent promotion of food taboos resulting from the level of literacy in Nenwe which has to do with their exposure towards western education. Death, has become so rampant more especially the pregnant women that need all these food nutrients in a larger quantities for healthy formation of the Foteus. Therefore, the problem of my study state as a question is how can the problem of food taboo be solved.

1.3 PURPOSE OF STUDY

          In carrying out a research on the topic Food Taboos and Superstitions among Nenwe people, the researcher wishes to find out:

  1. The Food taboos and superstitions in Nenwe.
  1. The reason why people cherish these taboos and the repercussions the taboos have on Nenwe people when eaten.
  2. Also to find out if these repercussions has befallen any Nenwe people and whether it still happens.
  3. The ways of solving the problem.

Finally, the researcher will make some recommendations about these taboos.

1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

          This study that borders on the food taboos and superstition on Nenwe people will be beneficial to the following people:

To The Pregnant Women

          The pregnant women needs protein intake in a large quantities for healthy formation of tissue. Example meat, milk, fish, eggs, are good source of protein but some of these foods are taboos. It is believed that a pregnant mother who eats snail during pregnancy will have a baby who constantly salivates but snail is one of the animal protein.

To The Lactating Women

          To the Lactating women also benefit because they requires extra energy for the tedious work looking after a child

To The Young Children

          The young children will also benefit because they required special nutritional care due to the following reasons.

  1. Young children have very sharp appetite
  2. The period of rapid growth clous
  3. Finally, they are physically very active.

To The Elderly People (Adult)

          Elderly people need adequate protein, carbohydrate, Vitamins and minerals and dietary fibre but food taboos and superstition causes malnutrition to this group of people.

          Again, this study revealed to Nenwe people in particular the importance of eating nutritional food.

          It also helped people in the society to understand that all food nutrients are meant for every body’s consumption.

          Finally, it shall evolve a new way in solving the problem associated with the food taboos and superstition in Nigeria.

1.5 LIMITATIONS OF STUDY

          The researcher will do a purposeful random selection of communities in Amaorji Nenwe because of the limited time, finance and other involvements during the period of the study. The places covered are Okpulo, Obiefu, Umulagu, Amaokwe, all in Amaorji Nenwe in Ani-Nri west local Government Area. Visiting this areas and interviewing the people there, the researcher was able to collect data for the study.

1.6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

          The following are the questions which this research work is aimed answering:-

  1. Are there food taboos and superstitions in Nenwe?
  2. What are the reasons why people cherish these taboos?
  3. Has any body eaten this food and had any negative effects (Diseases or illness)?
  4. What are the solutions to these problems?

1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS

It is necessary to clarify what is meant by some of the terms used in this project.

Taboo:- Prohibition against certain kinds of behaviour or setting a part of things as accursed to ban from.

Superstition:- A practice based on beliefs.

Totem:- Tribal bondage

Lactating Mothers:- Nursing Mothers

S.D.A:- Seven Day Adventist

Orthodox:- Traditional beliefs and practices of a religion

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