Powerful and Powerless: Women In Religion And Culture In The Traditional Ijebu Society In South-West Nigeria



Women have been variously conceptualized by different people as the beaver of human beings or as a special specimen of the human race or as the chattel of men, whose purpose is to work and bear children. Also, they are regarded as the source through whom kinship and succession is determined or, better still, as the powerful pivot which present the picture of weakness both in the home and in the society. These and many more have engendered the various inhumane and agonizing circumstances in which women find themselves. It has often been asserted that the role of women could only be gleaned from the domestic chores they perform at home. Before now, women have been relegated to the background, they were treated as nonentities who could only be seen and not heard. They were treated as an inferior or less privileged class of people whose only duty was to manufacture children and to tend their husband’s house. It was not until recently that women began to take issues relating to their well-being very seriously by taking steps to bridge the gap between themselves and their male counterpart. In spite of the debilitating circumstances in which women have found themselves, Ijebu religion places a premium on women and their roles in the society. This is as a result of their preponderant involvement in different cults of religious worship and their other roles in the society. This paper, therefore attempts to highlight the status of women in Yorubaland especially among the Ijebu people viz-a-viz their involvement in social, economic and religious activities, as well as their political roles. This presupposes that for a proper understanding of women, it is apposite to examine their involvement in social, economic and political roles in the society. It is on this analysis that their roles as mothers, leaders and religious experts are subjected to scrutiny in order to ascertain their contribution to social and particularly, religious developments.

Keywords: Women in Ijebuland, Socio-Political roles, Yoruba culture, Emancipation


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