Myths and Misconceptions About Leg Chain in Northern Nigeria

Updated: Jun 24, 2022
By Aisha Zakari
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Before we go into this questionable topic, this accessory has a lot of names. It has been called anklet, ankle chain, ankle bracelet, ankle string, and leg chain in northern Nigeria. The most acceptable English name is anklet, while leg chain is layman’s language of the accessory.

So, the anklet is an accessory or ornament worn around the ankle of a woman’s leg and sometimes, men’s.

What is A Leg Chain?

Anklets are made from silver and gold, and sometimes, we see simple and fancy leather with a twisted knot worn around the ankle. While this piece of accessory, along with earrings, jewelry, and necklaces, are gotten from the same metals, there seem to be heated conversations, arguments, and controversies.

This topic has brought about so many discussions among Nigeria’s three major ethnic groups – Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba.

History of Leg Chain

This fashion did not just start in our century; it has been with us for a long time. It is indeed a tradition, and whether we like it or not, some practice stays with us, either good or not.

Anklets have been in existence since ancient times together with their sibling, waist beads. It was believed, from research, that older women in Africa and Egypt wore these anklets to show beauty, status, charm, and originality in India.

Over the years, anklets have been trending among young and older women worldwide, which is now seen as a fashion trend. But, with movement comes an open dialogue, opinions, different meanings, views, pros, and cons. The use of these anklets among women has become the most controversial fashion in Nigeria, coupled with the nose ring and waist beads.

Meaning of Leg Chain in the Bible

The bible is silent on the leg chain, thus no concrete ruling is found.

Meaning of Leg Chain in Islam

In Islam, it is not permissible for women to show their adornment outside, most especially something that jiggles such as the leg chain. However, wives can wear it for their husbands.

And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment.

The ruling on this can be found in Suratul A-Noor 24:31.

Meaning of Leg Chain in Nigeria

The major tribes in Nigeria; Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba, have people who wear anklets during cultural events. As we all, with these wealthy tribes and different cultures, there must be discrepancies and controversies about leg chains in northern Nigeria.

Leg Chain Hausa Meaning

Leg chain in Hausa is called ‘Sarkan kafa’. In the Hausa culture, a woman is free to put on a leg chain but only under the condition that no man is allowed to see it other than her lawfully wedded husband. Her husband alone is the one who’s meant to see the chain and hear it jiggle whenever she walks, and in so doing, she’s abiding by the instructions in the Holy Quran. In a nutshell, the leg chain in northern Nigeria signifies marriage and adornment for the Hausa culture.

Leg Chain in Igbo Culture

Igbo culture’s leg chain signifies prestige, wealth, and beauty. Their anklets are made of elephant tusks, beads, and brass used in cultural dances, festivals, and other cultural events like coronations, chieftaincy titles, etc.

Leg Chain in Yoruba Culture

Lastly, in the Yoruba culture, it was worn to signify the symbol and spirit of children. The wearing of the beads is more symbolic than ornamental as it is worn mainly among Chiefs. In one way or another, these are why leg chains are worn by these famous tribes and among women.

But these cultures were broken and misled one way or the other, and I will share my story about leg chains in northern Nigeria.

My Leg Chain Story

What’s this topic without sharing my opinion and story? I’ve always fancied ornaments around my ankle, and of course, I have done that. I bought an anklet in northern Nigeria to twin with my best friend in school. I mean, best friends forever, we’ve all been there! We got a pairing anklet of different colours, one gold and the other silver.

Oh, I forgot something; before we decided to buy this ornament, we’ve heard several stories on campus about how the security personnel views anklets, but we still went ahead to buy them. It meant friendship, fashion, and nothing else in our defence. So, we bought them at around one thousand five hundred naira if I remember correctly. It was indeed a beautiful piece; we loved our pick, and we immediately put them on. We had a different walk for days as we slayed and sashayed the whole school with our anklets.

One beautiful morning, I returned from lectures when my friend called me over the phone, sounding pissed. I was confused. I couldn’t help but think, “What was going on?” I ended the call by telling her, “I dey come hostel now, I’ll be with you soon.”

She and I stay in the same room, so I know she will be there and I hope the food will be waiting for me too. On reaching the hostel and walking fast to our room, I saw my friend sitting on the bed. She seems calm now; I was glad. So, after resting and eating, we talked, and that’s when she told me what happened and why she was pissed.

She asked me to remove the anklet and place it on her hands. I tried explaining to her that it was just for fashion and nothing else. She refused to see reasons with me and kept saying leg chains are for lesbians. WHAT! I was lost for words, stunned cause I would never have thought anyone would think such just because of a fashion accessory.

Leg chain in northern Nigeria and other parts of the country signifies lesbianism. They see it as a way of telling the same gender that you are into them and they can come to you.

Leg Chain Misconceptions in Northern Nigeria

Asides from these, people also believe that women who wear anklets are said to be;

  • Be in an open relationship
  • Serve as an indicator that she has no love, and lastly
  • Irresponsible and wayward.

People also say that if the anklet is on her left leg, she is taken, and she is single on her right.

The use and significance of the leg chain in northern Nigeria will continue to be a myth, and we must live around it. People see this metal as a way of beautifying themselves, and no one can change their minds. This fashion trend has been accepted by some and condemned by others, primarily by religious, cultural, and social bodies.

But it is safe to say that these leg chains in northern Nigeria make ladies’ legs beautiful.


While there is more to leg chain in northern Nigeria, one thing we shouldn’t do is not judge the wearers as wayward. Let’s leave waist beads, nose rings, and leg chains in northern Nigeria for what they are – accessories and nothing else. People should be open-minded about these topics, respect women’s choices, and learn not to judge women based on their physical adornment.

FAQs on Leg Chain

What does the ankle chain represent?

Leg chains in northern Nigeria represent beauty, fashion style, and physical adornment.

is it a sin to wear an anklet?

In Islam, iIt is only a sin if it is worn outside. There is no ruling in Christianity.

What do anklets mean in Nigeria?

They mean different things to different people. To some, it is a sign of promiscuity, waywardness, being attracted to the same gender, being in an open relationship, and more. To most wearers in northern Nigeria however, it is simply a fashion accessory just like kube caps for men.

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