Africa’s Respect for Women — Debunking Myths
Has anyone heard that because most of our languages have gender neutral pronouns, our ancestors had an intrinsic respect for women — equal treatment of both sexes — before the British invaded?
That’s somehow things there was equal treatment of men and women before colonialism.
Just heard this on a podcast by a Ghanaian and a recent African American returnee.
Historical revisionism seem to be the favourite pasttime of these Pan-Africanists these days.
How can anyone say our culture was ever pro-women?
Let me give a good example: Rulership.
Most if not all African cultures who practice Monarchy believe the King is the most important person in the community. Some even elevated him to god status.
But women could not become Kings in African settings.
Remember, this was before the colonial era, so no mentions of Ahebi Ugbabe and her likes please (BTW, she became King because of colonialism).
Let’s take Osamawe Pupupu of Ondo Kingdom, for instance. Like Queen Amina, she established a Kingdom and after her rule, no female ever ascended the throne.
We all know it’s possible for a King to be denied male first children if he stays with one wife. If our culture had not evolved polygamy it’d have been guaranteed for a woman to rule at a point in time.
Even if we permit promigeniture, a system of having a male child rule regardless of his birth position, there is no 100% guarantee that all the children the one wife will give birth to would have a male amongst them. Coupled with the high death rate of babies, you will definitely get a female ruler at a point in time.
But with polygamy, a King can keep amassing women for the purpose of a male heir. A female ruler is thus kept out of the system forever.
So you have Queen Amina establishing a kingdom and none of her heir has ever been a woman. Our culture that is supposedly pro-women took them out of the equation.
Compare that to the British monarchy. Can you name any female monarch? Most of you know Queen Elizabeth II, so intuitively you know there was a Elizabeth I. Some who watch British movies would also know Queen Victoria and Queen Anne. There were many others but let me not bore you.
It was a regular occurrence to have female Kings in other parts, even if they were sometimes rigged out, which interestingly was the case for the males too.
So let no body bamboozle us by saying gender neutral language was out of respect for women.
At best, it was a fluke.
I keep saying that our problems cannot be solved by blaming colonialism. They existed before colonialism and may have been worse if they hadn’t shown up.