Gender, symbols and traditional peacemaking among the Nanka-Igbo of south-eastern Nigeria
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The class condition of women in contemporary Igbo society in particular and Africa in general, which is characterized by her peripherialization in the scheme of state building and knowledge production, has led to the need for the re-examination of her representation in specific cultural contexts in Africa prior to the major historical events (partition and colonization) in the continent. There is no doubt that the partition and colonization of Africa led to a pragmatic shift in local paradigms, and the significance placed on the agencies of cultural transmission. This need to re-examine women s representation in cultures and societies in Africa has become imperative in order to make, where possible, a factual representation of women s place in specific cultural realities. This realization gives impetus for this paper. This article re-examines the perception that women have nothing to do with two key peace symbols-oji (kolanut) and ofo (staff of authority and justice)-in Igbo culture as has been presented in the literature on Igbo culture. Using a case study typology, the study uses Nanka in Anambra State, south-eastern Nigeria as the study area. It identifies the place of the Earth goddess in oji and ofo ritual performances and concludes that, as a key participant in these rituals, gender is mainstreamed in the usages of oji and ofo.
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