Even as tribal marking gets less and less common in Africa, many people from the Yoruba and Hausa tribes of Nigeria still wear signs of their legacSy on their faces, and get stigmatised by the rest of the society as a result.
Adetutu Alabi was marked with four parallel horizontal lines on each cheek when she was a child with more on her neck and chest. Since then, her ambitions of becoming a model have been hindered; unlike local ones, bigger modelling agencies have told her they can’t hire her because of her marks. Having accepted the marks as part of her “African heritage”, Adetutu now campaigns against the marking of children (the method itself is very painful as it uses cutting or burning) and and for the acceptance of those who already have these tribal signs engraved in their skin. Her most significant action for this campaign was on Twitter:
The post received over 23k retweets and the famous singer followed her seventeen hours after. Adetutu said she would like to model for Fenty Beauty, which has been praised for being inclusive of all skin types across its skincare products.
The Nigerian government has announced a project to outlaw tribal marking, which is now mostly restricted to rural areas, but many other states are yet to follow Nigeria’s example.