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Traditionally, the practice of polygyny has been the norm among the cultures of the Igbo peoples up until the early 20th century. Since an agrarian lifestyle demanded large amounts of manual labor in order to plant, harvest, and process crops, families were usually large and could range anywhere from ten to thirty or more persons. Families lived in compounds called "ezi" (in some dialects), which are large, enclosed areas composed of houses belonging to related individuals who trace their lineage to a common ancestor (after whom the compound would be named). In traditional society, wives were a status symbol and indicated a man's affluence and prosperity. As men grew wealthier, they would marry more and more wives in order to be accorded more prestige within the community, and off course, produce more children. With the coming of Christian missionaries, who frowned upon the practice, in the early 20th century, polygyny became less and less popular and declined. Today, the overwhelming majority of Igbo people are monogamous. #igbohistory


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