African Women and Religious Change: A study of the Western Igbo of Nigeria with a special focus on Asaba town

This study focuses on a small ethnic group in the western part of Igboland called Asaba. It describes how the religious and socio-political role of women has changed, due to colonialism, modernisation, Western education and Christianity, which were brought by the groups of Europeans and Americans, who penetrated Africa in the nineteenth century. One of the major points of the thesis is that the freeborn women in the traditional “dual-sex”society of the Igbo lost their previous power to speak for themselves when the Igbo were Christianised. However, the women of slave origin happily adopted the new, more egalitarian faith.The dissertation is divided into three parts. The first part is the traditional aspect, which highlights the role of women in Igbo traditional society. The second is a theoretical and historical part…


CHAPTER 1 Introduction
1.1 The main focus
1.2 Definition of terms and spellings
1.3 Sources
1.3.1 Fieldwork
1.3.2 Archives
1.4 Review of previous literature
1.4.1 Previous Literature on Igbo Women of Nigeria
1.5 Structure of Presentation
CHAPTER 2 General Background
2.1 Geographical background
2.1.1 Settlement
2.2 Achievement orientation
2.3 Societies and clubs
2.4 Conclusion
CHAPTER 3 Kinship and Duality
3.1 Patriliny
3.2 Double descent
3.3 Dual-sex organisation in Igbo society
3.4 Conclusion
CHAPTER 4 Political Organisation
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Men’s political organisation
4.3 Women’s political organisation
4.3.1 The Otu Omu
4.3.2 Social, economic and political functions of the Omu and her cabinet
4.3.3 The Otu Umuada
4.3.4 The Otu Inyemedi
4.4 Slaves and the slave-born: ohu
CHAPTER 5 Economic organisation
5.1 Cultivation
5.2 Marketing and selling
5.3 Women’s economic clubs
5.4 Inheritance and authority after the father’s death
5.5 Summary
CHAPTER 6 Religious Organisation
6.1 Belief System
6.1.1 Traditional medicine
6.1.2 Disembodied spirits and witches
6.1.3 Separate female and male gods
6.2 Men’s religious organisations
6.3 Women’s religious associations
6.4 Conclusion
CHAPTER 7 Life Cycle Rituals
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Birth
7.2.1 Naming
7.3 Initiation
7.4 Marriage
7.5 Death and funeral rites
7.6 Conclusion
7.7 Summary and conclusion of part one
CHAPTER 8 Colonialism and Christianity
8.1 Christianity and change 1830-1888
8.1.1 Introduction
8.2 The end of the slave trade
8.3 Beginnings of European interest in the Niger area
8.3.1 The Niger expeditions of 1832-1857
8.4 The Royal Niger Company and Asaba
8.5 The coming of Christianity to eastern Nigeria
8.6 Christianity comes to Asaba: The CMS change
8.6.1 Early ventures by Sierra Leoneans
8.6.2 The CMS affects Asaba polity
8.7 Early Catholic establishments
8.7.1 The arrival of the first Catholic missionaries: The Society of African Missions
8.7.2 The early Asaba patronage
8.8 Conclusion
CHAPTER 9 Colonial Nigeria
9.1 The British conquest of Nigeria
9.1.1 The establishment of colonial rule
9.1.2 The British indirect rule in Nigeria
9.2 Asaba and the Ekumeku Resistance
9.3 Conclusion
CHAPTER 10 Combined Effects of Colonialism and Mission
10.1 Introduction
10.2 The early colonial impact on Igbo society
10.3 Indirect rule and political exclusion of women
10.4 The Aba women’s riot
10.4.1 Causes of the riot
10.4.2 The start of the riot
10.4.3 The results of the Aba “Women’s riots” Political effects on the colonial government Socio-political effects on Igbo women Socio-political effects on Igbo men
10.5 The missions and education
10.5.1 The continued impact of Western education
10.6 Women and the Churches
10.7 Modernisation, migration and urbanisation
10.7.1 The impact of the Second World War on Nigerian women
10.8 Conclusion
CHAPTER 11 Nigeria 1956 to 1970
11.1 The Growth of Nationalism
11.2 Igbo women and their roles in the Nigerian political parties 1951-1965
11.3 Church and state after independence
11.4 Igbo women in politics after independence
11.5 The role of Igbo women in the Biafra war
11.5.1 Igbo women in the Biafran army
11.5.2 Starvation as a weapon
11.6 The Churches and relief work in Biafra
11.7 The effects of the Nigerian civil war on Igbo women
11.8 Conclusion
CHAPTER 12 Nigeria 1970 to 2000
12.1 After the civil war: Reconstruction and reconciliation
12.2 Creation of new states and local government areas
12.3 Economic prosperity and decline
12.4 Nationalisation of schools and educational system
12.5 Church developments since 1970
12.6 Summary and Conclusion of Part Two
CHAPTER 13 Church and Women: Established Catholic Women’s
13.1 Introduction
13.2 The Catholic Women’s Organisation
13.2.1 Historical background
13.2.2 The Asaba Catholic Women’s Organisation
Functions of the Asaba Catholic Women’s Organisation
13.2.3 Structure and activities of the Catholic Women’s Organisation at
diocesan and national levels
13.3 St. Theresa Women’s Society
13.4 The Christian Mothers
13.5 Catholic nuns in Igbo society
13.5.1 The Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles
13.5.2 The Society of the Holy Child Jesus
The Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
13.5.3 The Congregation of Daughters of Divine Love
13.6 Conclusion
CHAPTER 14 Mixed Organisations in the Catholic Church
14.1 Introduction
14.2 The Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria (C.L.C.N.)
14.3 The Catholic Charismatic Renewal
14.4 St. Anthony’s Guild
14.5 St. Jude Society
14.5 St. Jude Society
14.6 The Legion of Mary
14.7 Infant Jesus Society
14.8 The Associations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
14.9 Comparison between the different Catholic organisations
14.10 Conclusion
CHAPTER 15 The Missionary Strategy in Igbo Society
15.1 The traditional and the modern organisations
15.2 Comparison between the traditional organisations and the new organisations introduced in the Church
15.3 Igbo women lost their dual-sex political role
15.4 Education, women and change
15.5 Igbo women lost their former economic role
15.6 The Omu lost her prestige in the society
15.7 Igbo women lost their roles as herbalists and traditional birth attendants
15.8 Igbo women’s role changed from wives and mothers

Author: Ibewuike, Victoria O.

Source: Uppsala University Library

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