What are four rumors/things the men have heard when discussing that the world is large and different places have different customs?

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In Chapter 8, Okonkwo visits his friend, Obierika, in order to take his mind off Ikemefuna's death. Obierika soon informs Okonkwo that he expects him to be part of the negotiations when his daughter's suitor comes to discuss the matter of the bride price.

Later, after the negotiations yield twenty bags of cowries for the bride price, the men eat and drink palm-wine while discussing the different customs of their neighbors. Accordingly, in Abame and Aninta, the titled men do common work; they 'climb trees and pound foo-foo for their wives.' All the men think this is a terrible custom; they prefer their own custom, where only untitled men are supposed to climb the palm trees in order to tap them. Additionally, pounding foo-foo is considered women's work, and no man in the Umuofia clan would be caught dead doing such a thing. Foo-foo is mashed yams and is a staple in West African cultures.

Additionally, people in Abame and Aninta do not decide bride prices with bundles of sticks, as is the tradition in Umuofia. Instead, they haggle over the price as if they were in the marketplace. At this, Obierika's brother pipes up that people in Umunso do not bargain at all. The suitor just keeps bringing in bags of cowries to his in-laws until they are satisfied with the number of bags he presents to them.

Okonkwo agrees that the world is a large place, and that not everyone practices the same customs. He is especially indignant that, in some areas, children belong to their mothers instead of to their fathers. Machi agrees that this sort of custom is a particularly troubling one and as ridiculous as saying that 'the woman lies on top of the man when they are making the children.' It is clear that the men derive their masculine identity from traditional customs and entrenched habits.

The last rumor the men discuss pertains to the white man, who is supposedly as white as chalk and has no toes to speak of. The conversation ends with Machi proclaiming that Obierika should know what a white man looks like and whether he has toes or not. After all, Amadi, the leper, passes by their village frequently. Since the euphemism for 'leper' is 'white skin,' those who know Amadi laugh at Machi's joke.

 

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