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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Socio- Political impact

The first socio-political effect of colonialism was the concept of the Victorian woman which the colonisers brought with them.
The colonialists came with the belief that women were to remain creatures of the private domain. Women were to preoccupy themselves with domestic issues and leave the ‘real work’ of ruling and running the nation in terms of politics and economics in particular to the men. The role and position of the pre-colonial African women did not conform to this concept of a women. Hence, the implementation of policies seated in this myopic perception of women led to the erosion of women’s position in society.
Secondly, male migration profoundly affected women especially in rural areas. In Tanganyika, male migrancy nearly halved the male population such that there were nearly twice as many women than men. The removal of males form African society le to the destruction of the African family. Household no longer had father, brother, uncles and nephews thus leaving a void where the male used to reside. Male participation in their traditional roles in ceremonies, rites and rituals was distorted. The responsibility older males had of guiding and steering young males was abandoned as many went to urban areas. Women could not rely on the social support and protection men offered them and in many cases became the de facto heads of household. The problem is that the increase in women’s social responsibilities did not lead to a rise in their status, if anything it led to an erosion of their status.

Thirdly, as colonialism progressed, African patriarch’s, and the colonial government to a certain extent, attempted to restrict movement of women in a bid to control their sexuality. As Parpart explains, ‘Colonial policy pushed men into migrant labour leaving women stranded in the rural areas with an increasingly onerous workload. As rural conditions deteriorated, the cities beckoned. While women had little chance of waged employment in town, their opportunities to earn money existed.’ As a result, more women migrated to urban areas but were met with stiff opposition in the form of disapproval of African patriarchs in particular. Both they and colonial officials disliked female migration because they felt it led to moral decline and female indiscipline. African patriarchs were particularly concerned with controlling women’s movement and thus sexuality for a number of reasons. Firstly, they wanted to retain the purity of their clan. When women moved away form home, the patriarchs had less control over whom the women married or cohabited with. Thus, African males wanted to keep women under their noses so as to ensure endogamous marriage by the women. Secondly, African patriarchs discovered that if women left home and got married in her new area of residence, the groom often did not pay the bridewealth. Since there was no social pressure on couples in urban areas to pay bride wealth, African patriarchs began losing a great deal of income in the form of unpaid bride wealth.Therefore, African patriarchs become preoccupied with controlling female mobility. The colonial administration also become concerned because some African men left their employment early due to domestic problems that arose in the form of accusations of adultery and wives leaving them for other men. This caused the colonial administration to assist the African patriarchs out of (initial) mutual benefit. In Zimbabwe, the administration passed Ordinances and Laws such as the 1926 adultery ordinance which applied to married women and the 1929 Native Affairs Act, which applied to prostitutes, in an attempt to, ‘assist the kraal native to control their women’. However, it must be noted that the colonial administration was not very serious in their attempts to control the movement of women due to the observation that the men were more productive when he had his wife or a female companion around.
Nonetheless, rural women’s mobility was constrained thus limiting the social freedom they used to enjoy. In the past women had participated in activities that required quite a bit of movement. Fro example, among the Kikuyu since trading was carried out by women they enjoyed freedom of movement in order to dispense of their duties effectively. Colonialism caused some women to lose the freedom they once enjoyed.

Fourthly, due to the Victorian concept of women held by the colonialist and embraced by the African male, women were excluded from the new political and administrative system. In the past, most African societies had a dual sex political system which allowed for substantial female representation and involvement in governance and administration. The position of Queen mother seen across Africa in Ghana among the Akan, Egypt, Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda but to name a few, gave women prominent and visible political authority in running the nation.However, the chauvinist and misogynistic colonial officials made no provisions in the initial administrative design. It is often only with women protests as was the case of the Aba women’s war and the actions of Mekatilili was Menza, that a meagre number of woman’s positions were created in the colonial set up.This marginalisation of women led to an erosion in the position and influence of women in society. As this new status quo was maintained, African men actually began to believe that women were incapable of leading the nations. This erroneous opinion is still held by many Africans to this day and is reflected in the meagre number of appointments women receive to parliament and ministerial positions.
The discussion on the socio-political effects of colonialism on women is not exhaustive by any means. However, it is designed to give the reader a good impression of how foreign colonial domination truly led to deterioration in the status of women across Africa.
The response from African women
African women did not appreciate the new form of foreign and local patriarchal domination that was being meted out to them due to colonialism. They thus voiced their concerns in numerous acts of protest an defiance in an attempt to not only vocalise their anger and frustration and the new state of affairs, but to also improve their situation. Therefore, although colonialism led to detrimental effects in the economic and socio-political spheres, African women used these challenges to empower themselves and move forward. Colonialism increased the levels of awareness in women about their situation, their rights and the ability they themselves had to alter their environment. As Parpart explains, women used the court system in colonial Zambia to their advantage, ‘They (women) learnt the value of protest and the need to frame arguments in certain ways.’ Thus, women adapted to their new realties and gleaned methods of self-empowerment in the process.

This resilience and ingenuity of African women is seen in the acts such as the Aba women’s war (1929) where women came together in protest of certain colonial policies. Queen Sarraounia (1899) of Azna defended her nation from French invaders while Mekatilili wa Mennza mobilised her community to protest against the British. Women formed associations and unions as a statement of their unity as well as to contribute to the push toward independence. Fro example, Oyikan Abayomi founded the British West African Ladies Club in 1929 with a member ship of 500-200 women. This organisation was anti-colonial and brought women’s voices together as a powerful against colonialism.
It is evident that colonialism led to a definite decline in women economic independence as well as their socio-political status in society. Colonialism managed to instil in African men a strange feeling of superiority over women despite the fact that for centuries prior to colonialism, this unfounded feeling of superiority was generally absent in non-Islamised African states. It is evident that even today, in modern Africa, women still have to live with continued subjugation and abuse because they are women. However, it is with great joy that once more, we are witnessing a rise in women consciousness and self- confidence as women say NO to continued social scorn and disrespect. Women today, just as they had during the colonial era, refuse to accept the injustices meted out to them by men of whatever race.

May we as Africans strive to restore African women to a position of respect and dignity that even exceed that which she enjoyed in the past. For it is only when a nation respects women and treats them with dignity that true development can occur. Women are at the frontlines of humanity as mothers and primary caregivers. Therefore, in nurturing and building them, we are building the whole nation and continent.

For the Restoration of Afrika and all Her peoples at home and abroad.

Copyright © Africa Resource Center, Inc., 1999 - .

The effect of colonialism on African women

Well, now that we have an idea of the general status of African women before colonialism...let's take a look at the economic and socio-political effects of colonialism on African women...remember, the idea is not to blame colonialists and get stuck in the rut of forever blaming others...the aim is to share knowledge and information and give us all some historical perspective as we look at our current state of affairs and as we make plans to Read More

Amina of Zaria- The pink heeled girl who defended the Hausa people

Between the Niger River and Lake Chad stretches a fertile region: Hausa country. Thousands of years ago when the Sahara was not yet a desert but a vast oasis populated mostly by Blacks, the Hausa lived in a mountainous zone now called Air. The desertification pushed them towards the Niger river while their neighbours went towards the banks of the Nile where they founded a new civilisation. Many specialists now admit that the Hausa language and that of ancient Egypt are related.
In the 15th century Africans who were recent Muslim converts invaded the land of Hausa. City after city fell under their rule and everyone thought that the land of Hausa was about to fall into foreign hands. That is when a pink heeled woman, Princess Amina of Zaria showed her true colours to the world, the ancestors and God. In no time everyone realized that she was the best rider and finest archer in Hausaland. Her arrows reached the most distant targets off in the hills, and on her horse, Demon, she charged towards advancing enemy troops. One year after that first assault, to the day, she had re-conquered all of the lost territory where many fortified towns still carry her name. The horses of this fearless amazon charged beyond the border of her land. Her domain stretched towards the source of the Niger; town after town, kingdom after kingdom, during the 34 years of her reign.A legend tells us that she took a lover in each city and then abandoned him when she thought it was time to conquer the next town. Every city was a lover and every lover was a city, thus says the legend of Amina of Zaria.

Copyright © Africa Resource Center, Inc., 1999 - .

African women’s role in Society and Governance

Economic roles

In traditional Africa, women had recognized and vital roles in the economic well being of their communities.Among the Kikuyu of Kenya, women were the major food producers and thus not only had ready access to land but also had AUTHROITY of how the land was to be used and cultivated. Therefore, the value of women’s productive labour in producing and Read More

Women in civilization

On Ancient African women's role in society

I always cringe when people talk about African women's 'traditional role in Africa' when in actuality they are referring to a fairly recent period in time (namely the 1800s) when African women's roles had already been distorted. So...just to set the record straight, here we go...and as a certain person would say...MUJIENJOYIII

The great Black Mother
Africans were the first to inhabit the earth. Fossil records as well as DNA analysis give scientific evidence to support this fact. Therefore, the first woman to give birth was a Black African woman.

Ancient Africans had a deep seated respect for women. Charles Finch in the book Echoes of the Old Darkland explains that early man did not know the link between sex and birth. Therefore, it was believed that new life was created by the woman, the mother alone. It was perceived that all life in nature emerged from women ALONE. Therefore when the first concept of God was developed, the female served as the model of the Supreme Being. Finch explains how it was under this initial Matriarchal System that the first rules and taboos to govern human behaviour were articulated. Another important contribution of ancient woman can be seen in the fact that as the gatherer of grains, seeds, roots berries and plants to the group, we had the opportunity to observe how seeds sprout when they fall in the ground. This observation led to the practice of organized cultivation. It was the woman who probably led to the practice of purposeful cultivation. This may have happened as early as 15,000 BC. It is the practice of agriculture that made population expansion, food surpluses and community settlement possible.
It is not known exactly when the role of the male in procreation was discovered, but this discovery did not enhance the status of men much until the necessity of men became clear in war and conquest. The vital role of men did not lead to an imposition of the male on the female, rather it served to enhance the principle of duality evident in creation. Males and females were seen as complements to one another and a harmony between the two was necessary for harmony to continue on earth. Therefore, it was seen as prudent and wise to ensure the well being of both men and women if the successful survival of humans was to continue. The respect for women was reflected in society and the seriousness and consideration women were given. In Egypt and Kush the importance of the mother was seen in the facts that the children took their surname from the mother and that the mother controlled both the household and the fields. In Kush, the Queen Mother had the right to choose the next Pharaoh. Prior to Islamic conquest of sub-Saharan Africa in the 12th and 13th centuries, the system of succession to the throne was matrilineal. Cheikh Anta Diop in his book Pre-colonial Black Africa explains that in the African custom of matrilineal succession, very strict rules were observed which stated that the heir of the throne was not the king’s son but the son of the King’s first-born sister (the king’s nephew). This is because the king can be sure that his nephew is his sister’s son but he cannot be sure that the son he considers his own actually is. As an African saying explains: We can always be certain who the mother of the child is, but of the father, we can never be certain. The brilliance of this logic cannot be missed. It was with the advent of Islamic conquest that this principle was replaced with one of father-son succession thereby removing the role of the woman from the power structure.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Welcome To My Blog Page

Good morning my friends and readers, I wish all of you the best a wonderful 2008.

My aim in this Page is to show how some fundamental principles and methods emerged and combined to form the modern discipline of Africans. This has been the subject of several complete books by few good Authors but I will attempt to map the development of Culture in a wider intellectual context and look in more detail at some themes that seem particularly important:

Today I thought I’d talk about African Culture, Society, Women and Christianity in Africa. It pains me greatly to hear some people say that there is no African Culture. Of course they are wrong, and my writing will demonstrate that African Culture is alive and well.

Please, you can read through the side Content by the right to give you page on the topics you’ll need.

Wish you the best as you read through.

(ii): The "Négritude" Movement and "African Philosophy"

In 1928, the young Léopold Sédar Senghor left his home in Senegal to study in Paris. Disillusioned by the ill-treatment of Africans in France and its colonies, he joined with his friend Aimé Césaire in 1929 to found a review called L'Etudiant noir, which proclaimed the principle of «négritude» (Guibert 1962, 15). The «négritude» movement sought to revalue the thought and culture of traditional Africa (see Mudimbe 1988, 83). Disenchanted with the racism they experienced in the French Communist party in Paris, the négritude group eventually broke with many aspects of communist ideology. In 1948 Senghor renounced his Read More

The Development Of African Theology

Studies have suggested that in the twenty-first century there may be more Christians in Africa than in any other continent (Barrett 1970). Already there are more Anglicans in church every Sunday in Nigeria than in all of England, the U.S.A. and Canada combined. With growth rates in African churches generally exceeding those found anywhere else in the world this is not surprising. As Lamin Sanneh has observed, "the irruption of Christian forces in contemporary Africa is without parallel in the history of the church."(1989, 188). This fact alone should be reason enough for westerners to take a look at what is happening in African Christianity, but even if this were not the case the very dynamism and vibrancy of African church life shows promise to a western church which, at best, often seems to struggle merely to survive in an increasingly secular culture.

Of further interest to sociologists, anthropologists and theologians is the fact that although Africa is now recognised to be the poorest continent, economically, theologians in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) have not generally embraced "Liberation theology", rather, most have chosen to go their own route, for the form of oppression which they feel most keenly is not economic oppression, but rather a cultural oppression; the derogation of African people and things African. This is what E. Mveng and the other African theologians have referred to as "anthropological oppression" (Fabella and Torres, eds, 1978).

Signs of African Christian disenchantment with the style of white missionary activity were already visible as early as 1821 in Sierra Leone, with the formation of an African Independent Church (AIC) there. In Nigeria, Independent churches began forming in the 1890s. The United Native African church formed as a break away movement from the Anglican church in Lagos, Nigeria in 1891. From that time to the present there has been a great proliferation of new independent churches, each with its own particular emphasis, and each attempting to preserve the African flavour, to become more authentically African than churches planted by the European and American missionaries. In 1970 the AICs claimed 15,971,000 adherents in 5,980 denominations (Barrett 1982, 815) and their growth rates averaged 4.33 % per year between 1970 and 1985 (Barrett 1982, 782). Today, these churches number well over two thousand in Nigeria alone. In some countries, notably Ghana, it is projected that members of Independent churches will outnumber those of either Protestant or Roman Catholic churches by the year 2000 (Barrett 1982, 323). The experience of these Independent churches may be called, in one sense, the first phase of African theology,(1) for apart from the churches of ancient Ethiopia and Nubia, here was the first articulation of a Christian theology by sub-Saharan black Africans on their own terms. There is great body of literature on the African Independent churches, and the African theologians in the denominations planted by mission churches from the west often refer to them as one source of African theology. However, the focus of my attention in this book shall be primarily upon the expression of this type of feeling from within the existing mainline churches planted originally by western missionaries. Reference to the Independent churches shall be made when it is necessary in order to understand developments in academic African theological discourse.

Within the Roman Catholic church in Africa the most significant early questioning of western Christianity was a collection of articles entitled Des prêtres noirs s'interrogent penned by a group of nationalistic African priests in 1956. They expressed some of their questions and doubts about the very European and alien manner of their church life and theology, and argued for "adaptation" of the church to the African context. When similar feelings existed in the Protestant churches they often had issued in the formation of independent churches, but voices within the mainstream Protestant churches also began calling for a new type of Christianity in Africa at this time. In 1958 an inter-church conference of African church leaders was held at Ibadan, Nigeria, which gave expression amongst the widest range of denominations thus far to the new desire for an Africanized church. This conference led eventually to the formation of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) in 1963 at Kampala, Uganda.

This period coincided with the appearance of new works from anthropologists such as E. Evans-Pritchard (1956), Marcel Griaule (1966) and scholars of religion such as G. Parrinder, (1954) which sought to examine African Traditional Religion (ATR) in a more positive and sympathetic manner than had previously been the case. At the same time Présence Africaine began publishing in Paris, with an agenda very much consonant with the new, more sympathetic approach in anthropology. With the convergence of these developments and the rise of African nationalism in the 1950s a "new wind" was blowing.

1: First Phase: "Adaptation"
The major concern of those writing and directing the course of African theology in the first phase was "adaptation". The thrust of this movement was to make Christianity adapt to its African environment. This was usually conceived of in terms of such practices as wearing African clothes, using indigenous African music in liturgy, and the indigenization of the clergy: the work of evangelization and pastoral care was to be shifted to Africans. This in itself was not a new idea; indeed, it was the goal of Henry Venn, General Secretary of the Anglican Church Missionary Society from 1842 to 1873, whose guidelines for missionaries stressed that the new churches in Africa must be "self-planting, self-supporting and self-propagating" (Kalu 1978, 348). But Venn's guidelines were largely ignored in the field, and the result was that the new churches in Africa remained very European in nature. In fact the 1880s and '90s saw the decline of African agency in Christian missions due partly to the increased effectiveness of malaria prevention, which enabled Europeans to enter the African mission field in much larger numbers. European management of missions insured a very European style of church life, which continued until the pressure for "adaptation" began to mount in the 1950s and '60s.

The first documented use of the term "African Theology" appeared in the context of a debate between Zaïrean theologian Tharcisse Tshibangu and his theological teacher Alfred Vanneste, held by the «Cercle théologique du Lovanium» at Kinshasa, Zaïre in January, 1960. The proceedings of this debate were published in Revue du Clérge Africain in that year. In the "Débat Sur La «Théologie Africaine»", Tshibangu posed questions as to whether certain aspects of African traditional religion might be used as points of contact with Christianity and argued that a distinctly African theology should be possible. Vanneste argued that Christian theology is universal, and therefore an African theology was neither possible nor desirable. At this time, Tshibangu, as he did in the Des prêtres noirs s'interrogent, stayed, for the most part, at the level of posing the question of whether an African theology might be possible.

Following the independence of most African nations in 1960, there was increasing acceptance of the agendas of the adaptation movement, by the European missionaries (some of whom were primary advocates of it) as well as by African Christians, who were beginning to see it as the measure of the maturity of Christianity in Africa. In 1963 the All Africa Conference of Churches was formed at Kampala, and in 1966 it sponsored the first Consultation of African Theologians at Ibadan, Nigeria, which stressed the need for an African theology. This conference was key in the development of African theology as a distinct movement. The papers from this conference were later published in the volume Biblical Revelation and African Beliefs (1969).

Following the independence of most African nations in 1960, there was increasing acceptance of the agendas of the adaptation movement, by the European missionaries (some of whom were primary advocates of it) as well as by African Christians, who were beginning to see it as the measure of the maturity of Christianity in Africa. In 1963 the All Africa Conference of Churches was formed at Kampala, and in 1966 it sponsored the first Consultation of African Theologians at Ibadan, Nigeria, which stressed the need for an African theology. This conference was key in the development of African theology as a distinct movement. The papers from this conference were later published in the volume Biblical Revelation and African Beliefs (1969).

In the Roman Catholic church Vatican II (1963-65) brought great changes in Catholic attitudes towards other religions. Increasing acceptance of African identity was indicated when in 1969 Pope Paul VI, visiting Uganda for the canonization of the Ugandan martyrs, told the Roman Catholic bishops: "you may and you must have an African Christianity". Aylward Shorter reports however, that despite the great volume of talk about "adaptation" and "Africanisation" in the Roman Catholic church in the years between Vatican II and 1975, in practice it had only amounted to: "the production of vernacular liturgical texts and the creation of local musical settings for these texts." (Shorter 1975, 146).

In the Protestant churches the 1970s saw the introduction of African musical instruments and African musical styles in most of the Protestant churches, including the evangelical churches, many of which embraced Africanized worship most enthusiastically (see Olson 1971). The Africanisation of the clergy became virtually complete in most Protestant denominations: by 1976 it had become rare to see a white missionary acting as an evangelist or pastor of an African congregation in Nigeria. But in terms of serious attempts to make the church African at the core, "adaptation" had gone very little further than in the Catholic church, and Shorter's comments that little had been done to grapple with traditional religious ideas, or to create typically African Church structures is almost equally applicable to the mainline Protestant mission churches. One exception was the Methodist Church of Nigeria, which adopted a new "Africanized" structure with a "Patriarch" at the head of it, Bolaji Idowu. He tried to move the church towards African structures and thought, a move that was praised by many of his fellow African theologians, though it caused a split in the ranks of the Nigerian Methodist Church.

Copyright © Africa Resource Center, Inc., 1999 - .

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Introduction (African background)

In the period since 1960 independent Africa has seen the rapid growth of a new group of African Christian theologians developing a new discourse within the churches planted by European and American missions. It has been established for some time that the theology of this group has gone through a first phase, which is generally called the theology of "Adaptation." This mode of theology was superseded in the early 1970s by a second phase, commonly referred to as the theology of "Incarnation."

My initial reflexion upon works published by the African theologians that I examined During my undergraduate studies. thesis at Ambrose Ali University in 2004, followed by further reflexion upon my own experience of years in Nigeria, led to a growing sense that African theology since 1960 has developed in three phases, the third of which is unfolding in the 1980s and '90s. However, after collection of a massive amount of data from the already vast African theological literature, I came to the conclusion that my original hypothesis of a third phase marked by a single paradigm was untenable. The current phase, if one may call it that, is in reality an explosion of African theological creativity and maturity marked by a serious wrestling with all of the issues posed by modern African life. then it seemed that I should document this explosion of paradigmatic diversity, and the plural concerns. Having observed quite a number of new theological developments after 1980, I asked the question, "what social conditions had shifted at that time?" There were many such changes: increased urbanization, increased educational levels, changing religious affiliations, etc. I discovered that it was not possible to understand the plural theologies of Africa without relating them to the concrete historical conditions in which they arose. Despite a common heritage, there is so much diversity in Africa that most generalizations are almost impossible. Theology in Africa is thus, regionally located.

This book brings together for the first time the theological literature of both anglophone and francophone Africa, and perhaps its most important contribution to scholarship is a methodological thesis: that theology is inevitably contextual - by showing the light which this approach sheds on African intellectual developments. The same method could be applied to European and American theology.

Part I traces the theological evolution, the phases of "Adaptation" and "Incarnation" and the new phase. Here, the exposition of what I have called the "third phase" demonstrates that the new developments transcend a single paradigm. Therefore it might be argued that there is no distinct "third phase", for as rapid social change engulfs Africa and the rest of the world no one can know what the outcome will be, or how Africa will appear several decades hence.

Part II deals with several concrete issues of African life today that have particularly challenged African Christians, especially in the 1980s and 90s. Here, I explore the various developments of the theological explosion by relating them to the concrete conditions which gave rise to them. Implicit in this methodology is a critique of theological studies that analyse the ideas theologians propose without realizing that these ideas cannot be properly understood unless they are related to their social base.

While several surveys of African theology are available, each of them suffers from one or several lacunae. Gwinyai Muzorewa has written an introductory survey entitled The Origins and Development of African Theology (1985) which is helpful but limited. First, it covers only the period up to 1980, and I shall argue that some of the most significant developments have taken place in the years since, 1980 being a watershed year; second, it does not treat francophone Africa; and third, perhaps partly because of that omission, it deals only superficially with the fundamental tension between the liberationists paradigm and the predominating inculturationist paradigm (see Tutu, 1975).

Friday, April 18, 2008

Love and Courtship in Igbo Marriage

Love and Courtship in Igbo Marriage

Anybody who has the misfortune of having to define love finds himself in a great difficulty. This is because the word 'love',, like 'justice' is subject to many bewildering and often contradictory interpretations or connotations. Many a murder, many an abortion and other crimes and shocking sins have been committed in the name of love. Here our purpose is not to     Read More


Igbo Ideas of Marriage

Inu nwunye (marriage) states Dr. Basden, "has a foremost place in Igbo social economy. It looms upon the horizon of every maid and youth as an indispensable function to be fulfilled with as little delay as possible after reaching the age of puberty". Since the Igbo are a patriarchal people, marriage is deemed an indispensable factor for the continuation of the family line of descent Children occupy the central point in Igbo marriage. The first and foremost consideration is the fertility of the couple. Parents long for this and the Read More

In Defence of Edo Womanhood


The expanded form of the word Ogiso is Ogie-iso, which when tranlated in Edo means, king of the sky. The word Ogie means king, Iso means Sky or Heaven. Thus the Edo people believe that thieir kings come from the sky or more appropiately, from Heaven or from God. It is belief which explains why the Oba or king is the embodiment of the culture of the Edo people. The story of the people of the people cannot be written without reference to their king or Oba. Indeed, everything revolves round the Read More