Folk Belief – Nigeria

“In Nigerian culture, fish in a dream is usually a very significant image. If you have fish in a dream, and no one is eating the fish, then it’s fine. It could mean the something might happen or something, but no one will really get hurt. If there’s a fish, and people are eating it, that means that something is wrong and someone might possibly die. If there are fish bones, then that means that someone is going to die, but that person won’t know they are going to die.”

Tobi said that she heard about the significance of fishes in dreams from her mom, but doesn’t recall the first time she heard about fish being significant images from her mother. She said that the night before someone died, her mom would have a dream about fish being the main course at a party or some other function, and that it was usually fried fish. She recalls one instance in particular that she remembers her mom waking up in the middle of the night one time, with a dream about fish. Her mom told her and her siblings that they should be careful. The next morning, her father’s professor’s wife passed away from breast cancer that she had tried to keep hidden. I asked Tobi whether she believed that there was a connection between images of fish in dreams and the events that happen after them, to which she very emphatically replied yes.

To me, it’s a very interesting belief, and though it has obviously manifested itself for Tobi, I don’t think I would associate any dream I have of fish with the events that happen after it. It seems like fish have an important part in Nigerian culture, probably because it is one of their few sources of protein. That can actually hold power over ones mortality. However, I am a bit less likely to start believing in the significance of fish in dreams, most likely because I haven’t personally witnessed many, or any, instances where a Nigerian person has a dream about fish. Another reason I am a bit less likely to believe is that most people can’t recall every dream that they have in full detail, whether there was a fish that was being eaten, was just present, or if there were bones in the dream. Also, I would ask what happens if a non-Nigerian person dreams about fish, whether that holds the same significance.