Heartbreaking photo shows tribal marks given to a baby

This heartbreaking photo of a baby who received tribal marks has gone viral on the internet. The photo was originally shared by a Facebook user, Aishat Alubankudi, who called on members of the Nigeria National Assembly to enact law that will stop the practice in Nigeria.

He said: “Pls say no to tribal mark!!!! Our Law Makers pls help us out, this is heartbreaking!!! Pls who knows his parents? They must be arrested!!!”

The photo has attracted wide condemnation by internet users, with many calling for the abolition of tribal marks in Nigeria.

Tribal Marks – the ‘African tattoo’

According to Thisisafrica, tattooing in Africa dates back thousands of years, from inked symbols of fertility on women in ancient Egypt to tattoos symbolising tribal hierarchy. Detailed documentation is hard to come by because of the time period and number of tribes, but tattooing both on the body and the face holds a fixed place in Africa’s history.

It is believed that the use of tribal marks on the continent increased during the period of the Atlantic Slave trade. Tribe members being shipped off as slaves to foreign countries were marked to identify them should they ever be rescued or freed – permanent signatures of their heritage. Tribal and clan wars, beauty, witchcraft and superstitious beliefs were also among the reasons for marking.


In Nigeria, an ongoing countrywide petition to ban tribal marks is being lobbied, primarily by human rights activists, and some states have outlawed the practice. The Osun State government introduced a law stating: “No person shall tattoo or make a skin mark or cause any tattoo or skin mark to be made on a child”. The law, obviously targeted at a particular demographic, mainly in rural areas, was fuelled by the increasing number of families marking children to ward off evil spirits as well as other superstitious and spiritual beliefs.

Our position:
Mazech Media urges everyone to join in the call for the abolition of tribal marks on new babies. Babies should be allowed to grow up and make informed decisions for themselves on what they want to do to and with their bodies.

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