ALL EYES ON US #9: THE EYE IN AFRICAN CULTURE

In West Africa, especially among the Bambara people of Mali, sight is considered to be the supreme sense; the one which unites all the others. Su nye are “night eye” scarifications made on both eyes, which are believed to double one’s normal eyesight and bestow the ability to see the unseen. 

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The eye also has a more intimate role for the Bambara, who make love as much with their eyes as their bodies. In Central Africa, the eye is a perpetrator of justice. When trial by ordeal is used to determine guilt or innocence, a liquid irritant such as latex or pepper might be dropped into the eyes of the accused, or a panther claw placed in the eyelid. If the accused goes blind, they are declared guilty. If there are no damaging effects, they are innocent.