For alot of people, the word “quarantine” reminds them of the lockdown and covid 19 pandemic; because most people only got to know of the word quarantine during the covid period. However, the act of “quarantining” dates back to ancient time and was practiced in across Africa. An example of such practices is the leprosy quarantine amongst the Yoruba people of west Africa.
The Yoruba leprosy quarantine
The quarantine practice was so common to the extent that it is embedded in the Yoruba proverb that says; (A kii sọpé kí ọmọdé má dá ete, tí ó bá ti le dá inú igbó gbé) You don’t tell a child not to contract leprosy so far he can cope with the loneliness in the jungle.
It is a historical practice among the Yorubas to ostracized people with leprosy into the deep jungle or outskirts of the city; where they would have limited contact with the rest of the healthy population or community; in order to limit the spread of the disease in the city or community.
The victims are given medical care at their new home, depending on their families’ financial status. Those who are not fortunate are left in the jungle or city’s outskirts.
From the proverb and actions, it can be observed that the solution is not just about isolating the victims, but practicing cleanliness like the conventional solutions being campaigned on today’s media, by doctors and health ministries around the world.
The clamor now is that any child who doesn’t take heed and fails to take care of himself/herself by living a healthy and clean life; should be ready to move to the jungle without their parents, guardians, families and loved ones.
To cut it short, to be forewarned is forearmed, All these are evidence showing that Ancient Africans were able to manage their affairs.