A Division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Heinemann

Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings

Female Power and Authority in Northern Igboland, 1900-1960

Nwando Achebe

SeriesThis product is part of the series: The Social History of Africa Series

ISBN 978-0-325-07078-0 / 0-325-07078-4 / 2005 / 288pp / Paperback
Imprint: Heinemann
Availability: In Stock
Grade Level: Other - Other
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    This is a brilliant and refreshing book, which gives ample and well-deserved voice to women...It is a book that will definitely be of interest to scholars and students in the fields of history, anthropology, political science, religion, and political economy. It is a must read for scholars and students in Women’s Studies Programs.
    —Felix K. Ekechi; Professor Emeritus(History); Kent State University

    This orginal and insightful work’s sensible and balanced view of Igbo women’s power and authority is modulated by a profound understanding of the ways in which women negotiated indigenous cultural spaces and at the same time negotiated with and refashioned pre-colonial and colonial contexts. Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings is a major event in African gender studies publishing.
    —Obioma Nnaemeka; Professor of French, Women’s Studies, and African/African Diaspora Studies; Indiana University, Indianapolis

    Nwando Achebe’s book is rich in accounts of the life histories of recent powerful goddesses that were constructed by the Nsukka Igbo from the late 19th century...[She] recounts these case studies with passion and fascination. This is another important addition to the growing literature in Igbo studies, gender studies and African historiography.
    —Ifi Amadiume; Professor of Religion and African and African American Studies; Dartmouth College

    [A] landmark in African historiography. In the best tradition of the discpline, [Dr. Achebe] reminds us after all that history, however academically grounded, should aim to delight as well as educate. Nwando Achebe is ahead of her generation not only in the depth of her sensibility but in the facility with which she represents the structures of feeling of her Igbo society.
    —Isidore Okpewho; Distinguished Professor of the Humanities; State University of New York, Binghamton

There is an adage that the Igbo have no kings. Farmers, Traders, Warriors and Kings focuses on an area in Igboland where, contrary to this popular belief, Igbos not only have kings, but female kings. It is an area where women served as warriors and even married many wives. Because women in Nsukka Division served as prominent actors in a complex set of interactions, relationships and manifestations unmatched elsewhere in Igboland, the author argues that researchers cannot adequately analyze the landscape of Nsukka Division (or any other African society, for that matter) without investigating the central place of women and the female principle in the spiritual world of the society. The author examines the political, economic, and religious structures that allowed women and the female principle to achieve measures of power and looks at some of the ways they reacted and adjusted to the challenges of European rule. Such an investigation into the history of this gender dynamic yields important results for both African History and Women’s Studies.

Achebe focuses on the evolution of gender politics and female power in Nigeria’s northern Igboland over the first six decades of the 20th century. This time period, approximately 1900-1960, is important because it allows for the exploration of continuity and change in Nsukka women’s activities, as well as the female principle, over three periods: late pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial Nigeria. Along the way, she raises and answers questions relating to scholarship on women, sex, and gender in Africa by uncovering the complexities of the Igbo gender construct, arguing, for example, that sex and gender did not coincide in northern Igboland. Consequently, women were able to occupy positions that were exclusively monopolized by men in other societies, and men, likewise, occupied positions that would have otherwise been monopolized by women. Expanding on this premise, the author calls for a revision of traditional classifications of African women’s activities that are defined strictly along sex lines. It reshapes conventional global frameworks by offering new theories that have the capacity to recognize African concepts such as female kings, female fathers, female sons, female husbands, female warriors, female warrant chiefs, and male priestesses.

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