AFO Fertility Figure By Mrs. Beatrice Okoh





Nasarawa State was created October 1st,1996 from the {today neighboring] plateau state.

Nasarawa state is bounded in the north by Kaduna State, in the west by Abuja Federal Capital territory, in the south by Kogi and Benue State and in the east by Taraba and Plateau State.

A network of road exists within the State, linking all the rural areas and major towns.

They have thirteen Local Government areas. Nasarawa State has agriculture as the mainstay of its economy with the production of varieties of cash crops throughout the year.


  1. Definition of terms
  2. Introduction
  3. Afo [the people]
  4. Afo fertity figure
  5. Similarities with other cultures


  1. Afo ; A group of people who live in the low plains of Nasarawa State.
  2. According to Oxfor English dictionary,
  3. FERTILE/ FERTILITY ; State of being productive. That which can produce babies, young animals, fruits or new plants.
  4. ANCESTOR; A person in one’s family who lived a long time ago.


Infertility simply means the inability for a man or woman to have or produce the cells and environment that are essential for the conception and delivery of a child. The issue of infertility has been in existence since time immemorial. We can see that in biblical days, woman like Sarah, Hannah and Rebecca to mention but a few were infertile. Due to this reason they called upon the highest power to heal them and bless them with children which he did.

In traditional Nigeria Society, fertility is believed to be spiritual i.e. the gods are assigned the responsibility for human, crop and animal fertility. These gods are usually represented in carved wooden figures, stones, rivers, shrines etc It is also believed that our ancestors are still living within us and presiding over the affairs of their loved ones and entire community so ,in times need i.e. people who are unable to reproduce consult and appease the ancestors to bless them with children..


Afo is a group of people who live in the low plains of Nasarawa State. These people are given into agriculture and rearing of livestock as a means of livelihood. Like some people in different parts of the world, they were also faced with the issue of infertility among their women. Infertility, as is common in most parts of Africa, is unacceptable as the women will not be allowed to participate in some communal festivity / occasions and will be disregarded by the community because it is believed that the women or her family had sinned against the ancestors. Her husband will also be treated with contempt and not assigned important roles in the society. As a result of this, women sought the help of their ancestors to help them out of their predicament and in this case AFOR FERTILITY FIGURE


Afo fertility figures are mythical female ancestors of the tribe .They are wooden objects which are carved out as mother and child or children and is usually in a seated position. The mother is depicted with big / elongated breast which is given suck to a child.

Sometimes the object is seen carrying another child on her back. This depicts fruitfulness i.e. the woman will be blessed with many children. The figure also has linear scarification on the face, hands, bust, and back which is the tribal mark of the people. The seated position depicts prestige and honor for the woman as any woman in the community who is blessed with children is highly respected.

These objects are kept in shrines and consulted through the help of a chief priest who makes sacrifices on behalf of the woman and then gives her a solution which could be a concoction to drink or rituals to perform. After some time the woman will conceived and give birth to a child or children who will be given names to honors the ancestors [AFO].

It is believed that this figure is brought out to the village square once in a year during the AYA festivals where men pray for increased fertility in the lives of their wives and also make gift offerings of money and food to the ancestors.




As earlier mentioned, the issue of infertility has been in existence since time immemorial and cuts across various tribes and cultures. Based on this, different cultures haves adopted various means of addressing this through the help of the ancestors. Examples are


The deity of Yoruba land is believed by the devotees to give children to the infertile.

Thus, there’s an annual festival celebrated in Osogbo, Osun State where women from various walks of life come to seek children by sacrificing and drinking the Seleru water. The emblem of the Osun cult is the Blue Youruba Segi Beads worn by the devotees.


This is a full figure headdress worn in the Ogbom dance which is known among many regions in eastern Nigeria.


Is the earth goddess who plays a very important role in human and agricultural increase. The Ogbom head dress a is used during a dance in honor of ALA



In conclusion, it could be said that there are similarities in our culture, citing that of Ogbom, Ala and Osogbo.


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