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Yoruba Lessons Rating: 6.5/10

Are you seeking a melting pot reflection of Nigeria? Then, ‘Marked’ is a must-watch!

Directed by Nadine Ibrahim, Marked recounts the long-preserved tradition of African tribal marks. The film provides a non-judgemental space to explore why and how these tribal marks are performed. It showcases how tribal marks are intertwined within spirituality, beauty, and health, and demonstrates their impact on personal identity. The documentary participants share that their reasons for getting the marks were either voluntary or involuntary. This approach positions Marked as unbiased and is a welcomed take as tribal marks are often perceived with a negative connotation. Beyond discussing the intricate details of tribal marks, the production quality of the film was exquisite. It captures the diverse landscape of the various parts of Nigeria– from the hills of Sokoto to the greenery in Oyo. The shots will leave you marvelling and asking is this Nigeria? This film also allows for the appreciation of  linguistic variations within Nigeria. Stories were told by participants in the language they preferred. from Igbo, Yoruba, Igala and Hausa, you hear them all.

Although Marked is sure to leave a lasting impression on your mind about this age-old practice and it will put you in awe of culture and tradition, you will also experience moments that cause you to cringe and question the continuity of such practice. Such moments include seeing the process of a young baby being prepared and ultimately being marked. Additionally, perhaps as a result of the film’s brevity, its creators don’t extensively cover the background or history of tribal marks. The objectives of the film centres on first-hand perspectives from people with these marks.

The lack of sufficient context may be due to a lack of historical and artefacts documentation prevalent in African communities. However, one thing is certain, after watching Marked you will be left more curious about this topic. Check out one of our popular Instagram posts here where we explore types of tribal marks specifically given in Yorubaland (western Nigeria).

If you’ve ever heard tribal marks being demonized, this film will leave you with better context to challenge those beliefs. 

What are your thoughts on permanent body modifications like tattoos, branding, and even tribal marks? Do you consider them forms of art and culture? Should they be preserved or limited.

Written By Kehinde L.

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