Pre-Colonial African Women In Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe

1368 Words6 Pages
The experiences of African women differ greatly throughout the continent. However, African societies have generally tended to be largely patriarchal. Women have held subordinate status to males in their communities. Authors such as Aje-Ori Agbese, Mariama Ba, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie concur on the prevalence of patriarchy and general oppression of women throughout African society, past and present, each placing emphases on the aspirations for greater equality for women on the continent. In pre-colonial African societies, women were for the most part shackled to the lives of their husbands. In traditional patrilineal societies, women could not own land, only being able to engage in agricultural practices through the use of a husband’s property or that of a male relative. Women rarely held positions of authority in their communities. The author Chinua Achebe, in his seminal novel “Things Fall Apart,” depicts pre-colonial African communal society as chiefly patriarchal. The leadership positions within, the society were exclusively held by males. Feminine characteristics were seen as weak, while those traits affiliated with masculinity were held in high esteem. In Achebe’s work the only path women had for advancing their secondary status in the community was in positions of religious and spiritual leadership (Achebe, p. 12). The writings of author Aje-Ori Agbese largely support this depiction of women in pre-colonial Africa, stating that “The African belief in a spiritual
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