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					                 WOMEN IN MEDIEVAL WEST AFRICA
I.    INTRODUCTION TO AFRICA
      A.   GENERAL REMARKS
           1.   3000 B.C.E. BEGINNINGS OF CIVILIZATION LIKE ANCIENT
                MESOPOTAMIA
                a.     HAD LARGE CITIES
           2.   300 B.C.E. - 900 B.C.E. MIGRATIONS OF PEOPLES FROM EAST
                AFRICA TO WEST AFRICA
                a.     INFLUENCED BY NILE RIVER CIVILIZATIONS
           3.   LARGE & POWERFUL AFRICAN EMPIRES EXISTED
                a.     GHANA EMPIRE - 300 B.C.E. - 1239 BC.E.
                b.     MALI EMPIRE - 163 B.C.E. - 1463 C.E.
                c.     KANEM-BORNU EMPIRE - 700-1700
           4.   ORIGINS OF YORUBA & HAUSA STATES
                a.     900
           5.   HISTORY DOCUMENTED IN
                a.     ARCHAEOLOGICAL FINDS
                b.     MYTHS
                c.     CHRONICLES
                d.     LINGUISTIC ARTIFACTS
                e.     ORAL TRADITIONS
                f.     CULTURAL ASPECTS
                g.     WORK OF ARABIAN & EUROPEAN WRITERS
           6.   IBN BATTUTA C 14TH C. IN TIMBUKTU
                a.     WOMEN TREATED WITH MORE RESPECT THAN MEN
                b.     YET DENOUNCED NUDITY OF WOMEN
                c.     & THEIR LACK OF SECLUSION
           7.   CAUTION IS NEEDED WHEN USING THESE MUSLIM SOURCES
                a.     FROM 9TH C. ON AS MUSLIMS ATTEMPTED TO CONQUER &
                       CONVERT WEST AFRICANS
                       (1)    MANY NATIVE CUSTOMS FORGOTTEN
                       (2)    MANY DOCUMENTS & ARTISTIC RENDERINGS
                              DESTROYED
           8.   ALSO MUCH STEREOTYPING OF GENDER ROLES

II.   WOMEN IN MEDIEVAL WEST AFRICA
      A.  WOMEN GREATLY ESTEEMED FOR THEIR NB IN VARIOUS ROLES
          1.    STATE FOUNDERS, MOTHERS, CREATORS, QUEENS
          2.    REGARDED AS SOURCE OF LIFE, WISDOM
          3.    WOMEN PLACED LEADING ROLES IN
                a.    AGRICULTURAL
                b.    ARCHITECTURE
                c.    CULTURE
                d.    RELIGION
                e.    ECONOMY
                f.    DEFENSE
          4.    WITH INTRODUCTION OF ISLAM SWITCH FROM MATRILINEAR
                SOCIETY TO PATRIARCHAL ONE
                a.    BUT LONG DRAWN OUT PROCESS
                b.    REMNANTS OF MATRILINEAR SOCIETY COULD UNTIL
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               RECENTLY BE OBSERVED
     5.  BUT WOMEN KEPT IMPORTANT ROLES IN SOCIETY
     6.  SOME AREAS WOMEN HELD HIGHER STATUS THAN MEN
     7.  WHAT CHANGES IN SOCIETY DECREASED WOMEN'S STATUS?
         a.    GROWTH IN POWER OF
               (1)   ELDERS & HEADS OF BIG FAMILIES & CHIEFS &
                     KINGS
               (2)   OVER ORDINARY TRIBE MEMBERS
         b.    DEVELOPMENT OF EARLY FEUDAL RELATIONS
         c.    DEVELOPMENT OF TOWNS
         d.    WOMEN FROM SOCIALLY PRIVILEGED STRATA MORE OR
               LESS CUT OFF FROM REST OF SOCIETY
     8.  AFRICAN WOMEN'S POSITION COMPARED FAVORABLY IN MANY
         RESPECTS TO MEDIEVAL EUROPE WOMEN
B.   MARRIAGE & FAMILY
     1.  PRIOR TO ALMORAVID JIHADS OF 11TH C POLYGAMY PRACTICED
         a.    MAINLY BY PEOPLE OF HIGH STATUS
     2.  LOWER CLASS MEN & WOMEN MONOGAMOUS
     3.  BUT POLYGAMY NOT ESPECIALLY FAVORED
     4.  BRIDE PRICE VIEWED AS GUARANTEE BETROTHED WOMEN
         WOULD BE RESPECTED, HONORED & PROTECTED
     5.  MARRIED WOMEN COULD BRING COMPLAINTS ABOUT THEIR
         HUSBANDS TO COUNCIL OF ELDERS
     6.  IF PROBLEMS IN MARRIAGE IRRECONCILABLE & FAULT RESTED
         WITH MAN
         a.    THEN WOMAN COULD DIVORCE & GET ANOTHER
               HUSBAND
     7.  MOST MARRIAGES ARRANGED OUTSIDE OF TRIBE
     8.  APPEARS WOMEN COULD BE ACTIVE PARTNER IN STARTING
         RELATIONSHIP
     9.  IF THEY IN LOVE WITH MAN THEY SENT HIM DISH OF TASTY
         FOOD WITH PYTTO OR PALM WINE
     10. PREMARITAL RELATIONS MATTER OF MUTUAL CONSENT
     11. APPEARS LOVE & MUTUAL AFFECTION DOMINATED DECISION TO
         GET MARRIED
C.   WEDDING CUSTOMS
     1.  GREAT VARIETY OF WEDDING CUSTOMS
     2.  MEDICINE MAN OR MAGICIAN PRESENT AT WEDDING
     3.  SECRET CEREMONIES & SACRIFICIAL RITES CARRIED OUT
D.   MOTHERHOOD
     1.  GREAT HONOR ATTACHED TO MOTHERHOOD
     2.  WIDESPREAD BELIEFS IN REINCARNATION
     3.  UNBORN, LIVING & DEAD ALL PART OF ONE SOCIETY
     4.  CHILD FULLY OR PARTIALLY REINCARNATED FORM OF BELOVED
         ANCESTOR
     5.  MOTHERS RESPONSIBLE FOR REINCARNATION
     6.  NAMES OF CHILDREN REFLECTED THIS
         a.    YETUNDE
               (1)   MOTHER HAS RETURNED AGAIN
         b.    BABATUNDE
               (1)   FATHER HAS RETURNED AGAIN
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     7.  SHRINES ERECTED IN HONOR OF MOTHERS
     8.  WOMEN & MOTHERS IMMORTALIZED AS GODDESSES
     9.  MATERNAL RELATIONSHIPS RITUALIZED & SYMBOLIZED BY
         BOTH GENDERS
     10. MUSIC, DANCE, POETRY ALL FORMS OF THIS USED TO HONOR
         MOTHERS
     11. 1 TRIBE DAUGHTERS ERECTED PERSONAL MATRILINEAL SHRINES
         CALLED
         a.     THE MOTHERS
         b.     MEMORIALIZED SERIES OF DEAD MOTHERS
         c.     SHRINES IN HOME ALSO
E.   QUEENS, PRINCESSES, COURT LADIES
     1.  MANY AFRICAN COUNTRIES RETAINED MEMORIES OF FAMOUS
         a.     FEMALE RULERS
         b.     WARRIORS
         c.     CO-REGENTS
         d.     QUEEN MOTHERS
     2.  IN GHANA ACCORDING TO FOLK TALES MANY FEMALE CO-
         REGENTS
     3.  IN ONE OF ASHANTI STATES 18 QUEENS REPUTED TO HAVE
         REIGNED BETWEEN 1295 AND 1740
F.   QUEEN AMINA 1550-1590
     1.  ZAZZUA ONE OF NUMBER OF HAUSA CITY-STATES
         a.     DOMINATED TRANS-SAHARAN TRADE
         b.     AFTER COLLAPSE OF SONGHAI EMPIRE
     2.  AT AGE OF 16 AMINA BECAME HEIR APPARENT TO HER MOTHER
         a.     WHO WAS RULING QUEEN OF ZAZZUA
     3.  AMINA LEARNED MILITARY SKILLS FROM WARRIORS
     4.  WHEN HER MOTHER BAKWA DIED AROUND 1566
         a.     PASSED TO HER YOUNGER BROTHER KARAMA
     5.  BUT AMINA LEADING WARRIOR OF ZAZZUA CAVALRY
     6.  HER MILITARY VICTORIES BROUGHT HER WEALTH & POWER
     7.  WHEN KARAMA DIED AFTER 10 YEAR RULE
         a.     AMINA BECAME QUEEN
     8.  SHE REIGNED FOR 34 YEARS
     9.  SHE EXPANDED ZAZZUA TO LARGEST EXTENT
         a.     ALL THE WAY TO ATLANTIC OCEAN
         b.     SHE BUILT MANY EARTHEN CITY WALL FORTIFICATIONS &
                FORTS
         c.     BECAME CHARACTERISTIC OF HAUSA CITY-STATES SINCE
                THEN
         d.     KNOWN STILL TODAY AS AMINA'S WALLS
     10. NOT NECESSARILY ANNEXING NEIGHBORING LANDS
         a.     BUT FORCING THEM TO ACCEPT VASSAL STATUS
         b.     SO HER HAUSA TRADERS WOULD BE SAFE
     11. ALSO UTILIZED EUNUCHS IN HER GOVERNMENT
         a.     FELT BETTER THAN SERVANTS
         b.     SO ENCOURAGED MEN TO BE CASTRATED
     12. SHE CREDITED WITH INTRODUCING KOLA NUTS TO ECONOMY
         a.     BECAME RECOGNIZED SYMBOL OF HOSPITALITY
         b.     UNIVERSAL EXPRESSION OF GOOD WILL
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                 c.   EVEN THOUGH MILD NARCOTIC STIMULANT
                      (1)   ACCEPTABLE TO MUSLIMS
                d.    USED FOR BOTH MEDICINAL & CEREMONIAL SIGNIFICANCE
                      IN WEST AFRICA
       G.   QUEEN KUFURU
            1.  NIGERIAN AREA HAUSA CITY-STATE
                a.    FOUNDED & RULED BY HER
                b.    8 QUEENS SUCCEEDED HER
       H.   QUEENS AS CONSORTS & AS QUEEN MOTHERS
            1.  WHERE POLYGAMY PRACTICED BY RULERS
            2.  CHIEF WIFE HAS ENOUGH STATUS THAT IF KING TRIES TO
                REPLACE HER, HE CANNOT
            3.  MANY AREAS QUEEN MOTHER ONLY PERSON WHO COULD
                a.    COUNTERMAND KING'S ORDERS
                b.    INITIATE ACTION TO REMOVE HIM FROM THRONE
                c.    PRESIDED OVER SUBSIDIARY COURTS
                      (1)   ONES HEARING CASES RE WOMEN
                d.    COULD PARDON OR OFFER SANCTUARY TO CRIMINALS
                      CONDEMNED BY KING
                e.    COULD REGULATE AFFAIRS OF WOMEN IN KINGDOM
            4.  POST MEDIEVAL TIMES MANY AREAS OF AFRICA QUEEN
                MOTHERS PLAYED PROMINENT ROLE
            5.  ALL AREAS QUEEN MOTHER OFFICIAL ROLE IN SOCIETY
            6.  IF MOTHER OF KING NOT AVAILABLE THEN RELATIVE

III.   WOMEN & RELIGION
       A.  INTRODUCTION
           1.   PROMINENT ROLE IN CREATION MYTHS, ETC. GODDESSES
           2.   NOT MUCH KNOWN ABOUT FEMALE DEITIES IN
                a.    GHANA, MALI, SONGHAY, KAMEM BORNU
           3.   SIGNIFICANT KNOWN OF FEMALE DEITIES IN
                a.    YORUBA, ASANTE, IBGO, DAHOMEY, MOSSI, OTHERS
           4.   VENERATION OF GODDESSES STILL PRESENT TODAY
                a.    OF AFRICANS & AFRICANS IN EUROPE & AMERICA
       B.  GENERAL REMARKS ON AFRICAN RELIGIOUS PRACTICES
           1.   ORIGINALLY ANIMISM & ANCESTRY WORSHIP
           2.   PLUS WHAT SCHOLARS CALL FETISHISM
                a.    WORSHIP OF VARIOUS INANIMATE OBJECTS
           3.   ANCESTORS REPRESENTED AS STATUES OR MASKS
                a.    OFFERED PRAYERS & SACRIFICES TO THEM
           4.   THEN POLYTHEISTIC STATE RELIGIONS DEVELOPED
                a.    TOOK OVER MANY ASPECTS OF OLD TRIBAL BELIEFS
           5.   FROM GHOSTS OF ANCESTORS DEVELOPED GODS
           6.   WHO THEN TOOK ON SPECIFIC FUNCTIONS, PERSONAL NAMES &
                WIDER AREA OF ACTIVITY
           7.   LIKE A SORT OF HEREDITARY ARISTOCRACY
                a.    GODS LINKED BY CLOSE RELATIONS & DOMINATED BY
                      LEADERS
           8.   SOME AREAS KINGS & QUEENS ELEVATED INTO GODS
                a.    WHO DECLARED THEIR ANCESTORS GODS ALSO
       C.  CHARACTERISTICS & DUTIES OF GODDESSES
                                                                        5
           1.    GODDESSES OF CREATION, FERTILITY & AGRICULTURE
                 a.    MANY SELF BEGOTTEN, SELF BORN WITHOUT ANY
                       ASSISTANCE FROM MALE
           2.    GODDESS ALSO CREATED MOON, SUN, STARS, ETC.,
           3.    NOT ONLY GIVER OF LIFE BUT TAKER OF LIFE
                 a.    CALLED MOTHER KILLER
           4.    SOME POSSESSED BOTH GENDER CHARACTERISTICS
           5.    SOME GODDESSES PART OF TRIAD
           6.    IN MANY PLACES BELIEVED WOMAN CREATOR
           7.    IBO IN NIGERIA CONSTRUCTED SUCH TEMPLES TO HONOR
                 a.    EARTH GODDESS = ALA
                       (1)   IGBO OR IBO PEOPLE - DEAREST GODDESS OF ALL
                             DEITIES
                             (a)   FROM 3000 B.C.E.
                 b.    IN QUIET CORNERS OF WOODS AWAY FROM ANY
                       SETTLEMENTS
                 c.    IN CENTER OF STRUCTURE - FIGURE OF GODDESS ALA
                       WITH CHILD ON HER KNEE
                 d.    MOTIF OF MOTHER & CHILD WIDESPREAD IN AFRICAN ART
           8.    PRIESTESSES ACTIVE IN VARIOUS CENTRAL HOLY PLACES
           9.    THESE PRIESTESSES ALSO OVERSAW
                 a.    DANCES & RITUALS & PROCESSIONS IN HONOR OF THE
                       FETISH
                 b.    OTHER HUTS OR TEMPLES HOUSING THESE INANIMATE
                       OBJECTS - LIKE
                       (1)   BONE, FEATHERS, HORNS, ANIMAL CLAWS, STONES,
                             LIVING OR STUFFED ANIMALS
           10.   SO COMPARED TO WOMEN ALL OVER WORLD
           11.   AFRICAN WOMEN INSTRUMENTAL IN PRESERVING RELIGIOUS
                 TRADITIONS
           12.   ALSO EVIDENCE OF SECRET SOCIETIES OF WOMEN IN RELIGIOUS
                 AREAS
           13.   PRIVILEGED POSITION OF WOMEN RESULTED IN VARIETY OF
                 ARTISTIC SUBJECT
           14.   STYLIZED WOODEN DOLL WHICH ASHANTI (IN GHANA) CALL
                 AKUABA
                 a.    WORN AS AMULETS OR AS STATUES
                 b.    SUPPOSED TO PROTECT AGAINST INFERTILITY
                 c.    ASSURE EASY CHILDBIRTH
                 d.    ENSURE CHILD WOULD BE HEALTHY & WELL-FORMED

IV.   WOMEN & ECONOMY
      A.  GENERAL REMARKS
          1.   WOMEN CONTRIBUTED SIGNIFICANTLY TO ECONOMIC
               DEVELOPMENT & GROWTH OF WEST AFRICA KINGDOMS
          2.   WOMEN LEADERS IN
               a.   DOMESTICATION OF PLANTS
               b.   ROOTS & HERBS FOR CONSUMPTION & MEDICINAL USE
               c.   INVENTED TOOLS FOR PROCESSING FOODS
               d.   USED CELESTIAL CYCLES FOR FARMING
          3.   WOMEN INTEGRAL ROLE IN DEVELOPMENT & EXPANSION OF
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          LOCAL & INTERNATIONAL TRADE
     4.   ITEMS TRADED
          a.    MILK, CHICKENS, RICE
          b.    CEREAL GRAINS SUCH AS FONIO
          c.    & FLOUR MADE OF LOTUS
     5.   ALSO WOMEN MADE OR PROCESSED
          a.    WEAVING OF CLOTH
          b.    LEATHER MANUFACTURING
          c.    METAL WORKING
          d.    LEADING ROLE IN MINING & PRODUCTION OF MOST NB
                COMMODITIES IN REGION
                (1)   SOAP
                      (a)   HIGH QUALITY
                      (b)   PORTUGUESE PROHIBITED ITS EXPORTATION
                            AS TOO MUCH COMPETITION WITH
                            PORTUGUESE SOAP
                (2)   SALT
                (3)   POTTERY
                (4)   COOKING & COSMETIC OILS
     6.   EVEN ENSLAVED WOMEN ABLE TO PROSPER IN ECONOMY
          a.    FEMALE SLAVE PROMINENT IN SOAPMAKING BUSINESS
          b.    FREED SHE MADE RULER 10 CAKES OF SOAP EACH YEAR
                AS SIGN OF HER APPRECIATION
          c.    WORKED IN COPPER MINES
     7.   WOMEN ALSO PLAYED 2 EXTREMELY NB ROLES IN GOLD TRADE
          a.    MINING & MARKETING
     8.   SYSTEM KNOWN AS DUMP BARTER PROBABLY INITIALLY
          DEVELOPED BY WOMEN TO KEEP GOLD LOCATION SECRET
          a.    1/2 DAY'S JOURNEY FROM GOODS & GOLD LEFT TO PAY
                FOR THEM & IF NOT ENOUGH THEN PROCESS CONTINUED -
                LIKE ANCIENT PHOENICIANS
     9.   CITY OF TIMBUKTU
          a.    WELL OF BUKTU - WOMAN MERCHANT
          b.    MAJOR CITY WHERE IMPORTS & EXPORTS TRADE
                EXCHANGED
     10.  WORK USUALLY GENDER SPECIFIC BUT VARIED AMONG TRIBES
B.   OTHER OCCUPATIONS OF WOMEN
     1.   PRIESTESSES - ALREADY DISCUSSED
     2.   SINGERS
          a.    SANG LULLABY OF PEOPLES AS WENT ABOUT DAILY LIVES
          b.    SOME SONGS JOYFUL - OTHERS SAD
          c.    NOTE TRADITION OF SONGS IN SLAVE AMERICA
     3.   GRIOTS - STORY TELLERS
     4.   ARTISANS
     5.   FISHERWOMEN
     6.   FARMERS
     7.   HEALERS
          a.    MANY WOMEN RENOWNED HEALERS
          b.    SOME WOMEN PRACTICED THEIR HEALING ARTS AS
                PRIESTESSES OF GODS OF MEDICINE
     8.   BODY & FACIAL HERBS & MIXTURES NOT ONLY USED TO
                                                                      7
               ATTRACT MEN BUT FOR THEIR MEDICINAL & SPIRITUAL EFFECTS
          9.   SOME WOMEN APPLIED WHITE CLAY CALLED SPIRITUAL POWER
               a.   FOUND IN RIVER BEDS
               b.   WITHOUT THIS POWDER ANCESTRAL SPIRITS UNABLE TO
                    COMMUNICATE WITH THEM
          10.  WOMEN TEACHERS
               a.   TAUGHT VALUES, TRADITIONS, RITUALS, LAWS
               b.   BY USE OF LITERATURE, INITIATION TRAINING, SECRET
                    SOCIETIES, ETC.
               c.   PROVERBS & INCANTATIONS USED TO INCULCATE THESE
                    VALUABLE LESSONS
     C.   AFRICAN ART PERTAINING TO WOMEN
          1.   JEWELRY - PROMINENTLY WORN BY WOMEN
          2.   CLOTHING
               a.   COLORFUL - IMPLIES MONEY SPENT FOR WOMEN'S DYING
                    & WEAVING OF CLOTHING

V.   SUMMARY

     A.   CHANGES IN SOCIETY THAT DECREASED WOMEN’S STATUS
          1.  SPREAD BY FORCE OF ISLAM
          2.  GROWTH IN POWER OF ELDERS AND HEADS OF BIG FAMILIES
          3.  MORE MALE CHIEFS AND KINGS
          4.  DEVELOPMENT OF FEUDAL RELATIONS
          5.  DEVELOPMENT OF TOWNS
          6.  INCREASED MUSLIM CUSTOM OF SECLUSION FOR WOMEN

				
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posted:10/9/2011
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