Exploring the Fascinating World of African Superstitions

July 3, 2023 1 Comment
African Ancestors

Enter the enchanting world of African superstitions, where old beliefs mix with modern life. These beliefs influence people’s choices, actions, and even their futures. This article explores the fascinating rituals and beliefs that govern African daily life. Prepare to uncover the secrets and experience the captivating web of African superstitions.

The Power of Lucky Charms

African culture values lucky charms, which have a strong influence on people’s daily lives. Believers attribute magical objects with the ability to bring good luck, ward off evil spirits, and enhance well-being. People carry small lucky charms or display sacred objects at home, greatly valuing their perceived power.

In African societies, lucky charms take different forms, each representing different aspects of life. For example, People often wear the ancient Egyptian symbol, the eye of Horus, as a necklace or bracelet to guard against the evil eye and attract good fortune. Likewise, elephant figurines or trinkets are favored lucky charms due to elephants’ admired wisdom and strength.

One well-known African lucky charm is the African juju. These small bags contain various items like herbs, animal bones, or personal tokens and are believed to possess strong spiritual properties. People wear juju around their necks or tie it to bracelets for protection and good luck.

As we continue exploring African superstitions, we will learn about more intriguing beliefs and rituals that shape people’s lives. But before we dive into that, let’s first discover the interesting taboo surrounding the number 13 and other bad signs that Africans try to avoid.

Avoiding the Number 13 and Other Bad Omens

In African culture, the number 13 is seen as unlucky and brings bad luck. Africans try to avoid anything related to this number because they believe it can bring misfortune. They go to great lengths to stay away from the number 13 in their daily lives.

This avoidance goes beyond just superstitions. Buildings often don’t have a thirteenth floor, and airlines may not have a thirteenth row of seats. The fear of this number is deeply ingrained in African society and affects many aspects of daily life.

In addition to avoiding the number 13, Africans also avoid other bad omens. These can include seeing black cats, breaking mirrors, or walking under ladders. Africans believe that encountering these omens can bring bad luck or harm.

By avoiding these bad omens, Africans hope to protect themselves from negative influences and keep positive energy in their lives.

Animal Symbolism: Messages from the Spirits

In African culture, animals hold special meaning and are seen as messengers from the spirits. They believe that animals can communicate with humans on behalf of the spirits, providing guidance, warnings, or blessings. Just like numbers and omens, specific animals have symbolic meanings and are believed to possess certain qualities or powers.

For example, the lion symbolizes strength, courage, leadership, and protection. Seeing a lion or its image is thought to indicate the presence of a powerful guardian spirit, offering protection and guidance when needed. The elephant represents wisdom, fertility, and good luck, bringing blessings of abundance and prosperity.

However, not all animal symbolism is positive. Some animals are associated with bad luck or serve as warnings. The snake is linked to deceit, danger, and evil spirits, signaling the need for caution and vigilance. The owl, known for being active at night, is often associated with death and the spiritual realm. Its hooting is seen as a sign of impending misfortune.

Africans observe animals closely, paying attention to their behavior and appearance for possible messages from the spirits. If an animal behaves strangely, people believe it conveys a message from the spiritual realm. This attentiveness to animal symbolism helps interpret and understand the messages from the spirits, guiding appropriate actions.

Taboos and Rituals: Navigating Daily Life

Taboos are important in African daily life to prevent bad events. They take them seriously, and breaking them can result in severe consequences. These taboos differ depending on the culture but serve the same purpose: keeping harmony in the community.

Respecting and understanding these taboos and rituals is essential. For example, some cultures consider it disrespectful to eat certain animals or their parts due to sacred meanings. This belief protects the natural world and shows reverence for the relationship between humans and nature.

Rituals are another significant part of African life. They mark important events or seek guidance from the spiritual realm. Rituals involve symbolic gestures, offerings, or prayers to honor ancestors and deities. They connect individuals to their heritage and reinforce their belief in the power of the spiritual world.

One well-known African ritual is pouring libations. This involves pouring water or alcohol as an offering to ancestors or deities. It expresses gratitude, seeks blessings, or asks for help in difficult times. Libations occur at weddings, funerals, and other important occasions, reminding people of the presence and power of supernatural forces in African beliefs.

By understanding taboos and rituals, we can gain a deeper insight into the role of superstitions in African society.

Africans also seek to appease their ancestors and deities, recognizing the influence of supernatural forces on their lives. Across the continent, there is a shared belief that ancestors and deities play a significant role in shaping one’s destiny and well-being.

Supernatural Forces: Appeasing Ancestors and Deities

Africans look to their ancestors for guidance and protection. They believe ancestors can influence the physical world and care deeply for their descendants. To honor them, they perform rituals like pouring libations, making offerings, or visiting burial sites. These acts maintain a connection with the past and seek blessings for the present and future.

African daily life also acknowledges the power of deities. Deities are powerful spirits or gods with specific domains of influence. They can affect the lives of individuals and communities. Africans seek their help in matters like fertility, health, prosperity, or protection.

People perform rituals and sacrifices to communicate with and appease these deities. They make offerings at sacred sites or shrines to demonstrate devotion and enhance the connection between humans and the spiritual realm.

By connecting with these supernatural forces, Africans seek balance and harmony in their lives. Believing in ancestral and divine intervention gives them purpose and security, knowing they can seek support from external forces. So Through these practices, deeply woven into their culture, Africans find comfort and reassurance in the complexities of everyday life.


In summary, African superstitions are fascinating and deeply embedded in everyday life. They include lucky charms and practices to honor ancestors, which are highly significant in African culture. By learning about and valuing these beliefs, we can appreciate the diverse African society and learn valuable lessons. Let’s welcome this magical world of superstitions, allowing them to influence our own thoughts and behaviors.

Check out my freebie on Introduction to Swahili which contains 8 commonly used words in simple conversations to learn about one of the commonly used languages in Afrika.

Swahili Magic

All posts

1 Comment

  • […] a traditional dhow, and you’re not just embarking on a voyage but traversing the waters the Swahili ancestors once navigated. These graceful vessels are a bridge between the past and present, embodying the […]

  • Leave a Reply

    I'm an elementary school teacher who loves what she does! I enjoy creating resources in my Native language "kiswahili". My goal is to spread the beautiful language of "Kiswahili" inside and outside the classroom. Thanks for stopping by! Read More

    Subscribe & Follow