Featured Taboos and Igbo treatment of women

Discussion in 'Igbo Culture' started by izu, Jul 21, 2016.

  1. Izu

    Izu Admin Staff Member

    Did Igbo culture historically discriminate against women just because they were women? Was discrimination based on how society was then structured, especially to protect marriages and achieve family peace?
    I will list some historical acts that only boys/men were allowed to do. In your comments, list the ones you know and see if you can identify the wisdom behind them. Think first about protection of marriage institutions and family peace.
    Note that the Igbo were traditionally polygamists.

    1. Only the man of the house will take yams from the yam barn - to keep good inventory avoid the wives carting off the yams, including those preserved for next planting season.
    2. Only boy/men can harvest cola-nut or pick up any pod that falls on the ground - to make sure one wife does not harvest the cola-nut to sell or hoard and deprive other wives of ability to present cola-nut to visitors.
    3. Girls do not inherit from their fathers - every girl should get married, protect the marriage and raise her own family. If your husband is abusive, tell your brothers and they will pay him an early morning visit.
    4. No one shall inherit from a man unless you identify your mother as a wife to the man or the man in his lifetime acknowledged you as his child - to make sure unmarried girls do not get pregnant and bear illegitimate children for their father.
    5. Girls should not climb trees - of course you know why.
    Now add yours in your comment and discuss if need be. Please say what you know. Note that this is history. This will help us decide whether the current state of our society should still permit such. Do not speculate.

    By Emeka Maduewesi
  2. Izu

    Izu Admin Staff Member

    Interesting replies -
    Reply No. 1

    I'll just respond to this and show why they are discriminatory-
    1. Only a man of the house will take yams from the barn- What if the man is the frivolous, thieving one in the marriage? What if he has a drinking/gambling/womanizing problem and takes the yams to fund his excesses. Should the woman just fold her arms and watch while the man carts away the fruits of her labour (Remember women also labour in the farm right?) just because its 'taboo'?

    2. Only men can harvest cola-nut or pick up any that falls on the ground- Same reason as above. Let me also add here that the man may intentionally refuse his wife when she requests cola-nut to visitors or he may not even be around so your second reason flies out of the window.

    3. Girls should not inherit from their fathers- I don't even think i need to elaborate on how sad this practice is but I'll do so anyway. What if a man has only daughters? What if due to family circumstances such as terminally ill parents or other family responsibilities the daughter is unable to marry? What if the daughter was a pivotal force behind the father's wealth? What if the sons are all efulefus who will destroy all their father has labored for all his life and the daughter is the only responsible one? I could go on but i think i'll stop here. You get my drift.

    4. Illegitimate children should not inherit from their father- Responsible men should not have illegitimate children. Period!!! And if he does, he should do the right thing and ensure that his children are well cared for.

    5. Girls should not climb trees- Girls can climb trees if they want to. And if randy, dirty minded men do not want to see 'something' they should walk away. Besides there are appropriate clothing for climbing.
  3. Izu

    Izu Admin Staff Member

    Reply no. 2
    No. 4 depends on he part of Igboland.
    Let's look at 'illegitimate' child on the man and woman angle, if an unmarried man impregnate an unmarried girl, let me split the answer by some parts of Igboland -

    1. Part one - The child belongs to unmarried girls family who will be eligible to inherit some of the things in the family and in some occasions where the family have no male child, theerit the ancestral home of the family and other inheritance. Town with such practices - Ogidi, Ogbunike, Abaganna, Umudioka, etc.

    2. Part two - The child belongs to the unmarried girl and will be inherited by the man that marries the girl later and are eligible to inherit from the man . Communities with such practices - Nteje.

    3. Part three - The child will be taken back to the family that impregnate the unmarried lady, the child will have no say or inherit anything in the girls fathers house. Example community - Onicha Ado.

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