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One example of an Ibo custom that was good for their people, but seen as an abomination to the colonialists was the practice of banishing those afflicted with “the swelling” into the woods to die. Although this may seem like a harsh custom, it was a necessary one in such a small society. We can presume a couple of things—first, that the Ibo people had no medicinal cure for this mysterious disease and, secondly, that it was contagious. Therefore, it was necessary to remove those afflicted with this condition in order to make sure that their entire tribe was not wiped out by disease. Even if, let’s say, twenty percent of the population were affected by the disease, that would seriously jeopardize the lives of the WHOLE tribe because they were so interdependent in terms of growing yams which sustain their lives. This is just one example of the many customs that seem brutal, but are crucial to the survival of such a small community that is extremely dependent upon one another.
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