Personal Stories

The Many Challenges of a Young Woman Living With Facial Tribal Marks in the 21st Century


Tribal marks dates back many centuries ago and it is often called the African tattoo. Asides from being used as a means of identification for tribes, it is also a symbol of beauty but not in this 21st century.

For girls whose families still glorify and conform to tradition, they are not given the opportunity to choose whether they want it or not, they are just marked and that is the story of Olatunbosun Blessing Damilola, whose tribal marks, that used to be a symbol of beauty has now become a symbol of ridicule.

She shared with BBC Africa what she goes through because of it.

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“People call me funny names. They call me one-one, vegetable stick all because of it. but there’s nothing I can do about it. Personally before, I do feel bad about it but when I got to realise that it can’t be changed, it can’t be cleaned, it has become a part of me.

It is part of our culture. My parents love it that is why they put it on my face. When I asked my mum, she told me that during the time I was born, people cherished it. There’s nothing I can do about the scar but people discriminate a lot.

When people start saying all these things, I feel bad, sometimes, I feel like crying. I somehow think about myself in a very disgusting manner. We feel as if we are not even human beings at all.

My advice to parents is that they should not put it on their children’s faces. To everybody out there that loves to discriminate against people with tribal marks, I think they should stop it.”

Living with facial scars in Nigeria

"I used to feel bad about it… but now it has become a part of me."

Posted by BBC News Africa on Friday, July 13, 2018

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