Social Structure Title played a crucial role in social hierarchy. hierarchy of ascending titles (i.e. leader of clan, leader of army, etc.) accompanied by an ascending scale of payments Age also played an essential role. oldest man of the villages were paid great respect and were given important jobs: - settling family disputes - made decisions in issues involving other clans Religion played a role. The clan depended on the decision of Agbala, or the oracle, if clan leaders and elders were unsure about an issue.
Bottom of the Social Hierarchy Ohu: A slave who had very few rights - usually became companion of owner Osu: A slave with little/no rights - They were hated and despised; therefore being an Osu was the greatest insult in Igbo society.
Purpose of Marriage Generally, marriage is carried out for procreative (reproductive) purposes the first & foremost consideration is the fertility of the couple
Marriage Ceremony & Customs Man notifies his parents, relatives of his intentions to getting married Groom’s family searches for suitable bride After notifying bride’s parents of the man’s interest both families dig for info. About each other info. About any diseases they have, whether woman is a virgin, whether man is hard-working, etc. Satisfied, family of groom sends close friend to officially tell bride’s family After one/two formal visits bride makes decision Then bride price is determined before final marriage
(continued) Igbo society follows Polygamy, which is the custom of having more than one wife. Many wives symbolize power and wealth Isa-ifi:ceremony of confession, where the bride is asked questions about her virginity from the groom’s family and elders done to make sure that she was faithful during her courtship
Bride Price Bride price is regarded as a token of appreciation for loss of a daughter Use sticks to decide upon the bride price 1 stick = 1 bag of cowries Given to bride’s father/relatives in presence of elders of both bride’s & groom’s communities Acts as a contract between two couples seals them together
Role of Males Men were expected to be active, aggressive, powerful Male-dominant society; therefore, males were in charge of a VARIETY of tasks usually involved w/ STRENGTH only men allowed to grow yams must take responsibility as patriarch of family learned how to establish himself as a farmer Basically, when looking at a man he was judged upon his 1.Prosperity as a farmer 2.Power & Control as head of family 3.Physical Strength
Role of Females Main purpose in life: - getting married to a prosperous man - giving birth to sons - taking care of children & housework specifically, they took care of their daughters (sons were taken care of by fathers) spent most of their time in the kitchen = unlike men, have very LIMITED roles in society merely considered as MOTHER & WIFE Women were expected to be obedient & respective towards their husbands
Boys vs. Girls Dominance of males can be further seen in the difference between the roles of boys and girls from childhood boys and girls are taught to do very different things, thus they are taught to be segregated Boys: Mostly involved w/ farming & strength Ex) Nwoye & Ikemefuna help Okonkwo - prepare yam seedlings - get knives sharpened Ex 2) teenage boys involved in the wrestling matches Girls: Spend most of their time in the kitchen Ex) Ezinma helps her mother cook for Week of Peace Ex 2) Ezinma & Obiageli bring meals to their father
Quote #1) “Nwoye somehow still preferred the stories that his mother used to tell… stories of tortoise and his wily ways…But he knew that they were for foolish women and children, and he knew that his father wanted him to be a man. And so he feigned that he no longer cared for women’s stories. And when he did this he saw that his father was pleased and no longer rebuked him or beat him (38).”
Possible Answer We can see that starting from their childhood, Igbo kids are taught that men are more superior, stronger, more important than women or girls. The males and females are socialized differently; Okonkwo divides the boys and girls into two separate groups, saying that Nwoye shouldn’t mingle with the women and their petty tales. Just as Okonkwo expects Nwoye to become masculine, men in Igbo society are expected to be strong and powerful.
Quote #2) “Okonkwo knew she was not speaking the truth. He walked back to his obi to await Ojiguo’s return. And when she returned he beat her very heavily. In his anger he had forgotten that it was the Week of Peace. His first two wives ran out in great alarm pleading with him that it was the sacred week. “
Possible Answer This quote shows how men saw their wives as inferiors. Beating one’s wife was acceptable in the Igbo society because the man was the head of the family. They had the ultimate control and the wives couldn’t question or go against his decision; as seen in the quote, Okonkwo’s wives cannot do anything but to plead him not to beat Ojiguo.
Discussion Questions #1) Compare and contrast the traditional Igbo society to the world we live in today in terms of gender roles. In today’s society, a lot more rights are given to women. They have the power and the ability to get involved in a variety of jobs that even men have difficulty doing. There are women doctors, lawyers, wrestlers, K1 fighters, businessmen, etc. Although it may vary from nation to nation, generally, women are no longer inferior to men and they are no longer obliged to follow the decisions of men without questioning him. Women’s opinions are valued just as equally and they play a valid role in today’s community. Sadly, the similarity is that although women’s rights have increased tremendously, women are still seen as inferior in less-developed regions of the world, such as Africa, Southeast Asia, etc. They are still raped, hit, ignored, and beaten. Even in developed nations such as Korea and Japan, you can see that it’s still somewhat male-dominant; there’s usually more men working in offices, hospitals, and politics. However, one important difference lies in the fact that we are trying to CHANGE all this through promotion of women’s rights by various NGOs and nations.
Discussion Questions #2) Sometimes, it’s necessary for you to see a situation from the exact opposite point of veiw in order to understand how other people feel. Boys, explain how you would’ve felt living as a woman. And girls, describe how you would’ve felt living as a man in the Igbo society.
Possible Answer Girls: (From the man’s point of view )Men are the ones who bring bread and butter to the table. We are the ones who protect the entire village and our family by fighting in wars and putting our OWN lives on the line. I think we deserve this much respect and admiration, being the ones dominant and active in society. Boys: (From the girl’s point of view) Women are the ones who take care of issues at HOME. Men say that they deserve the outrageous amount of “respect and admiration” because they protect the village and family, but the truth is that women are the ones who maintain peace at home. This is such a significant role. We take our OWN time to take care of the children, prepare meals for our husbands every single da, do the house work, and listen to all our husband’s requests without a question. WE are the ones who deserve the respect.
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