Facts about Left Handed People – Nigeria

Keywords: Left handedness, handedness, right handedness, mixes handedness dominant, ambidexterity, Nigeria.


Facts about Left Handed People – Nigeria. What does it mean to be left handed? What causes left handedness?  How many Nigerians are left handed? The good, the bad and the ugly of left handedness. Is there any help for them?

Many research persons believe that the numbers of children born with left handedness are increasing globally.  And by adulthood, there are about 10% to 11% of them.

In Nigeria it could range from 5% to 20%. This high percentage of left handed people of 20% is found in Lagos. And there are more men left handed than women.

What brings about some people being left handed while most people are right handed is not fully understood. But many theories have been postulated by researchers.

Unfortunately globally, people who are left handed are not fully accepted in the society and they are abused. This is one reason why this topic –  Facts about Left Handed People – Nigeria.

What does it mean to be left handed?                                                             

Humans are born with different types of handedness. Some people are right handed; some are left handed, while others have ambidexterity. Having ambidexterity means that the person feels comfortable using either hands. Then there are people that are mixed handed, i.e. they change hands depending on task.

Handedness means being comfortable with using a particular hand. Those who are more comfortable with the right hand are said to be right hand dominant (more powerful). And the left hand is the non dominant hand. It is the same vies versa.

Then there is the very minute number of people or mixed handed, they have cross dominance. Most people call the writing hand, the dominant hand. And the right dominant hand are more in the population.

So people known as left handed, are born with the left hand as their dominant hand. And they perform actions faster, stronger and more skillful with the left hand.

What causes left handedness?

What causes left handedness is so complex that it is not fully understood. And researchers have come up with so many theories. But what can be deduced from all of them is that it is due to gene and environment.

The genes:

Many genes are responsible for handedness. So handedness runs in the family or inherited. This inheritance is not as strong as other forms of inheritance.

If a woman is left handed, it is more likely that she will have a left handed child than if the man is left handed. But many left handed women give birth to right handed children.

Environmental factors:

Research has proved that pregnant women, who are depressed or stressed, are more likely to have left handed children. Even elderly pregnant women are also more likely to birth left handed children.

Children, who have low weight at birth or are premature at birth, have a high risk of being left handed. Even babies with low apgar score at birth and babies who had traumatic birth are at risk of being left handed. Children from multiple pregnancies are also at risk of being left handed.

There is a controversy about the male or the female hormones, i.e. testosterone and estrogen predisposing to left handedness. Some researchers believe that they do affect, but others say no.

Those who believe in the high testosterone theory, say that it is the reason more males are left handed.  But those who don’t believe in hormone effects, say that the high male left handedness is due to forced handedness. They say that children born with left handedness are forced by parents, etc. to change to using their right hands. And more females get affected by this force than males.

This brings us to the effect of culture on handedness. The more acceptable the culture of the land is on left handedness, the more people who have left hand dominance. And vies versa.

It is known that most left handed people have the right side of the brain being the dominant brain side. But this does not hold true for all left handed people. Some left handed people have the left side of the brain dominant.

How many Nigerians are left handed?                                                                                           

People with the left hand as the dominant hand do exist in Nigeria, but the number varies according to state. The number is highest in Lagos state where the incident is as high as 20.1%. This figure is higher than that of Kwara state (5.4%) for example, by 4 times. It was also higher that of a southeastern state of 7.52%.

The gender prevalence is more on the males. But this could be due to children with left hand being forced to use the right hand. And girls are more compliant than boys.

A research among medical students at the University of Nigeria gave the following figures.   The researchers found that 3.94% of the students have left handedness and 87.63% are right handed. Then 8.43% are mixed handed. Among these, 10% of them were forced to change from using their left hand to using their right hand.

The good, the bad and the ugly of left handedness.

Being left handed confers some good and bad qualities to the person. It also has its ugly side.

The good:

Majority of left handed persons are right brain dominant, which is used for creativity. So they are very creative people, especially in arts, music, as authors and in sports. Thus they do well in sporting activities such as tennis, boxing or fighting, chess, etc.

Because some can make use of both sides of their brain they are flexible in thinking and actions. And they process information much faster than those that are right handed, thus they are fast in learning.

When it comes to the issue of mathematics, most researcher believe that left handed children, especially boys, perform better. But other researchers do not agree.

They are independent and like working alone where they can show their creativity and imaginations. And they are also calm in nature and emotional.

Above all, they have economic advantage over persons that are right handed. This is because they are good in entrepreneurships and have good leadership skills.. They are good in thinking outside the box and can easily adapt to new situations.

The bad:

The speech centre is localized at the left brain so many people believe that left handedness affects speech. So they may have problems when it comes to reading. For some left handed people, this is the case, but not so for all.

Left handed persons are more likely than right hander to have psychiatric and neurological issues such as easy anger issues. So they may have hot temper.

They are more among those that suffer from schizophrenia and periodic limb movement disorder. Periodic limb movement disorder involves the involuntary movement of kicking and moving the limbs while sleeping.  Left handed people are also seen more among those with autism.

Such people are also more likely than right hander to have post traumatic stress disorder. And they are more at risk of having depression, bipolar and anxiety. Left hander can easily become dependent on substance.

Women who are left handed are more likely to have Parkinson’s disease.

They are shy as well as being easily swayed or convinced.

It is important to know that majority of left handed people do not have these disorders.

The ugly:

Those that are left handed face a whole lot of challenges when it comes to using appliances, machines etc. Most of these things are produced for the use of people who are right handed. Even doing high five with others is a challenge, especially with people who are right handed.

In most societies, persons born with the left hand are stigmatized. People emotionally abuse them by calling them all sorts of names such as lefties, southpaws, etc.

Right handed people do not allow those with left hand to give or receive things with the left hand.  In Africa, Nigeria inclusive, giving and receiving with the left hand is seen as a sign of disrespect and being rude. Left handed persons in Nigeria are seen as witches. And this is why this write up on the facts about left handed people in Nigeria is important.

In history, the word left has been known as evil, unlucky, sinister, clumsy and malicious.

The retrained children can experience inferiority complex, restlessness, sleep issues, stuttering and problems communicating, etc.

Even in modern times, children born left handed are retrained to make use of their right hands. And these can predispose these children to psychological problems.

Is there any help for them?

Unfortunately the parents and teachers that should protect and help children with left hand are among the abusers.

It is important that people should know that retraining these children will bring them untold hardship and not improvement.

So parents may need education on left handedness and how to help them at home. Setting things around the house should be able to take into considerations those that are left handed. For example, issues like setting the table so as to suit them.

Parents should also give these children social support and encouragement. This can be done by letting these children know that they are not disabled and loving them as they are.

Teachers should be trained to understand all aspects of left handedness. They should be trained in how to offer educational services for the left handed children.

The society should stop the stigma. And they should see those people that are left handed as one aspect of handedness. It is not a disorder.

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