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Gender and Sex in an African Society

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Gender categories were one kind of new tradition that European colonialists institutionalized in many African cultures including the Yoruba culture. Contemporary Western feminism has continued to extend their empire. Oyewumi enables the reader to envision what is hard to imagine within Western feminism world after gender. The book makes a huge contribution to not only feminism and African studies but also to philosophy, social theory, and sociology in general. In Male daughters and female husbands, Ifi Amadiume conducted a research within her own family to study sex and gender in African society (Amadiume 1987).

She challenges the social anthropology and orthodoxies arguing gender and sex did not necessarily coincide. In the book, she examines the structures enabling women to gain power showing that roles are neither rigidly feminine nor masculine. The study was performed in the only Igbo area that was studied in detail by anthropologists in between 1980 and 1982. In 1976, the local government reformed and divided Nigeria into 19 states with 299 local governments with Nnobi being one of the towns in the local government. Most the people Igbo were also separated between the states.

The book is based on the slavery of the Igbo men that enabled them to introduce new societies that were secret and excluded women while redefining performances of power in their society and masculinity. Both books show the resistance of women to secrets in the society limited to socio-political power and local influence. During the pre-colonial periods that these books are based on, the rule of the elders was to increasingly undermine the rule of wealth and power. There was never significant political influence and women maintained superior political authority till 1900.

Examining expressions of female authority and power between 1850 and 1900, there were challenges that prevailed for women as subordinates to men in the pre-colonial period. Women maintained their enviable positions as the main breadwinners of their families till the first two decades of the 20th century.

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