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In their writings, European anthropologists often described the Igbo as a 'sober race', in reference to the lack of alcohol and alcoholism in pre-colonial Igbo societies. Indigenous drinks consisted of 'nmai ngwo' (native palm wine), which is sap extracted from palm trees. Wine tappers, such as this man shown in the photograph, would scale the palms and collect the sap to be fermented into wine and mixed with water. It was so difficult to achieve intoxication by the consumption of fresh palm wine that it was considered far less potent than English tea.

The introduction of European liquor into Igbo societies (most notably German Schnapps) led to an increase in alcoholism and the incorporation of liquor into social practices.



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