Saturday, October 10, 2009
When I was driving with Fatai yesterday, I was watching the always entertaining world of Lagos pass by the car windows. I started to look at the different people walking along the streets. I wondered if Fatai could tell what tribe people were from just by looking at their faces. He has taught me about the traditional dress of the three major tribes in Lagos : Yoruba, Hausa, and Ibo. The Yoruba dress is a long shirt ( about to the knees), matching pants, and a cap that kind of flops to one side of the head. The Hausa tribe wears a very long shirt( all the way to the ground) and matching pants underneath with a squared off cap ( looks like a pill box cap). The Ibo tribe wears a shirt with a belt made of fabric around the waist and pants. The hat for Ibo is squared off, but for lack of better words, has a bumble on the top right in the middle. But, I wondered if Fatai could tell what tribe people were from when they were not in their traditional tribal dress. So, of course, I asked him. He told me that he can always tell what tribe someone is from. Up until a few years ago, the Yoruba and Hausa tribes would mark the faces of the people who were in their tribe. By marking, I mean cutting the faces of the people in their tribe, and leaving scars to show what tribe the person was from. Hausas and Yoruba had different types of markings to distinguish them from each other. Some Yoruba have three horizontal marks on the sides of their faces. Hausas have something different, but I am not sure what it is. ( I will find out and tell you later.) Happiness and Fatai both told me that making the marks on tribe members is not widely practiced anymore. Fatai said that he can look at a person's face and features and he can tell what tribe the person is from. I know it shows my ignorance to the many different people here, because I can not tell tribal differences between people...at least not yet.:) So, after talking to Fatai about the different tribes, he taught me a new Yoruba phrase. Here it is: e ka san (eh-kah-san) which means good afternoon. E ka san to you all!