The Left-Handed Stigma: Why is using the left hand stigmatised in Igbo culture?
In Igbo culture, using your left hand in certain everyday activities is often stigmatised and is seen as bad manners, especially when giving or receiving things from elders. This belief is embedded in traditional cultural proverbs, which often paint the left hand unfavourably while the right is seen as a symbol of positivity.
Historically, the left hand was reserved for personal hygiene in many cultures. It was also used for spiritual activities like divination into the spiritual world and is therefore believed to evoke superstition.
Meanwhile, the right hand was reserved for the most important actions, such as eating and holding the sacred Ikenga symbol.
The right hand and the Ikenga
The Ikenga, meaning “place of strength,” is a revered figure in Igbo culture, representing a man’s source of power, economic prosperity, and physical fortitude. It is held in the right hand, and like the Ofo, it is traditionally used for important actions.
In essence, the left hand’s usage in Igbo culture reflects deeply held beliefs and traditions. Although the younger generation may not observe this practice as strictly as their elders, the left-hand stigma in Igbo society is still a significant cultural norm. Deviating from it may result in being reprimanded by older community members.
Please note, this article is for educational purposes only. Okwu ID empathises with individuals who have faced challenges due to societal pressure to use their right hand, even if they are naturally left-handed. We acknowledge that people should have the freedom to use whichever hand feels natural to them.