Page 76. " Ezinma lay shivering on a mat beside a huge fire that her mother had kept burning all night. "It is iba." "

In the Igbo culture, the word "Iba" is translated to "fever." This usually refers to the fever that comes from malaria. Malaria is traditionally transmitted by mosquitoes. Its symptoms consist of a cycle of chills, fever, sweating and pain. Malaria fevers were frequently cured by the Igbo with medicine made from leaves, grass, and bark. 

Page 77. " This man told him that the child was an ogbanje, one of those wicked children who, when they died, entered their mothers' wombs to be born again. "
Public DomainOgbanje

"Ogbanje" literally translates to "children who come and go." These types of children are thought to be evil, as they will die shortly after birth and return at the next pregnancy, following the same pattern to curse the family forever. To end the cycle, the bodies of children thought to be ogbanje were often mutilated after death to stop them from returning. The ogbanje who supposidly returned were born with scars or deformities from the previous mutilation.

Page 80. " And this faith had been strengthened when a year or so ago a medicine man had dug up Ezinma's iyi-uwa. "
Medicine Man
Public DomainMedicine Man

The iyi-uwa is an object that is believed to be the connection between an ogbanje child and the world. If the iyi-uwa is found and destroyed, it will stop the ogbanje from returning. The iyi-uwa can be a stone, hair, dolls, and even omens. To find the iyi-uwa, a medicine man or shamen will question the living ogbanje to lead the way to the burried iyi-uwa. 

Page 89. " Each of the nine egwugwu represented a village of the clan "

Egwugwu are the spirits of ancestors that watch over the tribe. The egwugwu in the novel are leaders of the clan that wear masks to represent the different spirits. The egwugwu are called when there is a dispute within the clan. They ask questions and determine who is at fault and what should be done to solve the dispute.

Page 95. " Ezinma and her mother sat on a mat on the floor after their supper of yam foo-foo and bitter-leaf soup. "
Public DomainVernonia-Bitterleaf - Credit: United States Department of Agriculture

Bitter-leaf soup is a traditional African dish prepared with leftover assorted meats, snails, and fish, along with bitterleaf. Bitterleaf is a type of shrub that can be found in West and North Africa and is under the Genus Vernonia. Several species of Vernonia, including V. calvoanaV. amygdalina, and V. colorata are eaten as leaf vegetables.

Page 95. " Every woman in the village knew the sound of Nwayieke's mortar and pestle. "

Mortar and Pestle
Public DomainMortar and Pestle - Credit: Evan Amos
A mortar and pestle is a tool used for grinding things such as pills and grain.

Page 96. " He searched his bag and brought out his snuff-bottle "

Snuff is ground tobacco and is generally inhaled through the nose, although there are variations in which it can be applied to the gums. It is smokeless, and in European countries in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, it was considered a product for the elite. In Africa however, snuff was used regularly before Europeans had a chance to colonize. It can cause cancer just like normal tobacco.

Snuff is normally stored in bottles (at the time this takes place in Africa). The bottles are small enough to keep in the palm of your hand and are easily stored. The pictures below are of Chinese snuff bottles. 

Snuff bottle
Creative Commons AttributionSnuff bottle - Credit: Elizlenz
Page 96. " Once upon a time,” she began, “all the birds were in invited to a feast in the sky. They were very happy and began to prepare themselves for the great day. They painted their bodies with red cam wood and drew beautiful patterns on them with uli "

Storytelling is a very important aspect of Igbo culture. There are two things that the storyteller must consider: having a good plot and properly dramatizing the story. If a member does not learn to tell a story, then they cannot become a prestigious part of Igbo society. Stories are told differently depending on the audience and the gender of the person who is telling them. The best kinds of raconteurs are supposed to attract both young and old audiences. Stories are usually told at night or in between planting and harvest seasons because at this time the Igbo are not at work. Moonlight is a helpful factor for storytelling.