The first article speaks of a general practice where all spinsters were required by the chief to marry in a bid to stop the spread of venereal diseases. Every unmarried woman above the age of fifteen years was needed to choose a man to get married to, and even though this started out as a minor issue, it became very ingrained in the society to the extent that the chief would use the police to enforce the practice. Women who did not abide by this requirement would be arrested and placed in police holding. They would be kept there until they loudly called out the name of a man. The man whose name was called out would then be required to take the woman out of the police holding by paying her fine and after that take her to her parents' home. He would pay them some money and buy them a gin and let them know that he would be marrying their daughter.
This practice carried the day in the pre-colonial times. In the colonial times, it became the founding for the exercise of civil marriages. The author speaks of the recent works of literature which seem to provide inadequate information on the method or no information at all. He fears that such a traditional happening appears to be on the brink of losing its place in the recent culture since people no longer remember it for the education of the future generations. He points out that different kinds of literature over the years provide different accounts and the people who were there in that time frame are also dying due to old age.
This article raises a lot of concern as to a woman's readiness for marriage. It did not take into account a woman's position, and for the mere fact that one had to call out a man's name and after that marry them, it seems that love was also not considered. This point is brought out in the case of Kwaku Afram v Afuah Buo in which a lady refused marriage to a man despite his paying the required fees because she did not like the man.
The second article is named Spirituality, Gender, and Power in Asante history. It points out the lacuna before 1701 on the Asante community's political and military environment. However, spiritually, the Asante people had a lot of beliefs as to the existence of good and evil, of supernatural beings that could not be seen with the bare human eye. They believed in the presence of a supreme being Onyame the creator of the universe from whom all authority came. It also speaks about how persons could be able to tap power from Onyame and use it for good or for evil.
The article goes further to question the emergence of gerontocracy and gender divisions in leadership such that older members of the society had more say in every decision. Besides, it also took into account the genders such that older male members of the community had such roles. Their status rose to the extent that upon death they were still revered as the medium between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Patriarchy developed around the same time although the matrilineal system was still there. An example was the ohemaa (the queen mother) who ruled with the king.
This article pointed out Asante in the old days when there were strong beliefs in the existence of deities for each occasion. There were good and bad deities, strong and weak deities and certain individuals in the community had access to different gods. They were also believed to be closer to the male older members of the society. This belief has informed the Asante people's way of living till the pre-colonial times.
The third article, Marriage Patterns, Trends and Timing in Urban Khartoum, 1940-1975; Theory and Evidence explains the prior practices involving arranged marriages and post-nuptial plans done by the parents of the couple long before they were even of age. The extended family's agreement was vital even to the detriment of the comfort of the couple itself. The article criticizes this form of arranged marriage that was based on the direction of the extended family. It further looks at the genesis of the nuclear family and states that in comparison with the extended family system it is not a new phenomenon.
The article further looks at the age of marriage in most African communities and states that it was low. However, a different scenario plays out in North African countries where there the extended families are more prevalent, and Islam is a universal religion. The author also looks at other countries especially Japan in Asia. He points out that they present a good case for understanding the link between marital timing and residence and socio-economic backgrounds. He states that for Japan, the ages of marriage and other factors that play at marriage tend to change with the changing economic times.
In Khartoum, just like Japan, with urbanization, the age for marriage for both men and women has risen. Such a change is attributed to the development in the city coupled with the changes in educational structures and power dimensions among the people. This article points out changes in marriage especially in urban Khartoum and highlights the focal point that both genders place minus the interference of parental decisions as was evidenced in the past.
The last article, Women, Power, and Authority in Traditional Yoruba Society, lays down the place that women occupied in the traditional Yoruba communities and how the same influenced their lives and the lives of others. The article looks at the position of women concerning power and authority in such societies. It articulates that different practices were evident among the diverse Yoruba states such that the status of a woman in power positions or decision making depended on their family and kinship. The article looks at the old cultural practices among the Yoruba and their way of life such as in the village, their political structures, and their economic and social structures.
The article speaks of the pre-colonial era leadership by women for example when picked by the ifa oracle as opposed to the heir of the throne on the beliefs that one would bring about prosperity and good tidings. In some kingdoms, for example among the Akure, the oldest princess would rule until a new king was chosen. It further looks at the rule of women among the other kingdoms selected for different reasons and beliefs by the people and kingdom as a whole. It also speaks about instances when women were chiefs especially concerning the legislative, executive and judicial arms of the governing body. An example is the position of an iyalode, specifically set aside for women only.
This article looks at the vital role that women have played in the traditional Yoruba societies. However, compared with the modern society, women had more influence in the traditional setting. With colonialism came the distinction of roles between women and men and also the establishment of the larger state polity to which to date, women, if any, have played a very insignificant role.
Abdelrahman, A. I. (1991). Marriage Patterns, Trends, and Timing in Urban Khartoum, 1940-1975: Theory and Evidence. Journal of Family History, 16(2), 177-190.
Afonja, S. (1986). Women power and authority in traditional Yoruba society.
Akyeampong, E., & Obeng, P. (1995). Spirituality, gender, and power in Asante history. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 28(3), 481-508.
Allman, J. (1996). Rounding up spinsters: gender chaos and unmarried women in colonial Asante. The Journal of African History, 37(2), 195-214.
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