Friday, November 19, 2010

Helmet Superstitions

“For many Nigerians, the only thing scarier than a motorcycle taxi is a motorcycle helmet—and its potential juju, or supernatural powers,” writes Will Connors in today’s Wall Street Journal. “One inventor’s answer: a cloth liner.”

I knew that Nigeria passed a helmet law for okada (motorcycle taxi) drivers and their passengers, but I rarely saw people in Jos actually wear them. Turns out that some Nigerians believe that other people might’ve put a spell on that helmet that’ll steal their good fortune or make them disappear (to be used in a sacred ritual). Wow. And I only thought the helmets might be too expensive or not stylish enough.

This goes to show that we can’t assume to know the reasons that people in other cultures do or don’t do what we might think is logical. It’s best to ask questions until we get at the root of people’s beliefs and work from there. The cloth liner inventor is wise to work with local assumptions. Not only will more people now wear helmets, but they’ll have cleaner heads and fewer trips to emergency rooms.

Click here to read the complete article.There's also a 58-second video ad for the product.

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