Original

Igbo names and spellings for various settlements
Abakaliki is Abankaleke; Afikpo is Ehugbo; Awgu is Ogu; Awka is Oka; Bonny is Ubani; Enugu is Enugwu; Ibusa is Igbuzö; Igrita is Igwuruta; Oguta is Ugwuta; Onitsha is Onicha; Owerri is Owere; Oyigbo is Obigbo... any more will be added.

Friday, March 8, 2019

"In Nigeria It Is The Women Who Propound Laws"

By CAROLINE ISAACSON

One of the most precious gifts a kindly providence can bestow upon one, W. L. George, a popular writer in the early days of the century, but alas little read today, once declared in one of his books, is a sense of adventure. That sense that sends one questing and which invests even a tram journey with- a certain amount of excitement. I thought of this when recently I met Mrs Kenneth Ross

For we got into conversation, and I learnt that she had been in Australia but a very short time, ana had spent the greater part of her life in Nigeria. Her coming to this country was via Singapore, the same as so many other newcomers to these shores.

The name Ross and Nigeria instantly recalled to my mind a book Ik had once read by Sylvia Leith

Ross about that particular part of the Empire, and I was most interested to learn that Mrs Leith Ross and my travelling companion were not only sisters-in-law, but had spent some considerable time together in Nigeria whilst the investigations which form the basis of the book were being made.

Mrs Kenneth Ross accompanied Mrs Leith Ross on many of her exploratory journeys. They travelled all over Nigeria, and the subsequent report on the life of the Ibos is considered one of the most comprehensive documentary research efforts compiled.

Life in Nigeria appears to be amusing as well as interesting. Marketing, for instance, Mrs Ross told me, she found not only a necessary but an exhilarating pastime. All the goods and foodstuffs are set out in the market in sections, and more by good luck than by good management lanes are somehow kept open between them. "It is true one had to pick out the needed pot from between 10 pairs of legs, and pull out the desired mat from under 20 garrulous women, and fowls were passed from hand to hand over the heads of the crowd until they reached the purchaser, and a sudden shriek would tell one a foot had inadvertently stepped into a cherished pot of pal oil; yet good temper reigned supreme, and even if a quarrel did arise it was quickly smothered by the laughter of the onlookers," was how she described a typical morn ing's shopping.

I was interested to learn that the Ibo women claim full equality with the men, and indeed Mrs Ross found them if anything the dominant partner. It is women's councils there who rule agricultural matters, and it is these which enact laws for the protection of crops, and enforce them by suitable penalties.

In so far as marriage is concerned, an Ibo girl becomes betrothed while still in infancy. The girl's dowry is paid on the instalment plan, and, what is more, the bridegroom has to pay a dowry to the bride's parents, and if he has not completed payments before 18 months after the first child arrives the parents can recall their daughter to their home, and the husband has no redress whatsoever!

Mrs Ross and I decided that although we Western women may pride ourselves on our enterprise and intelligence and perspicacity, there is still a great deal, it would seem—in comparison with the Ibos—we have to learn.

"In Nigeria It Is The Women Who Propound Laws— And Enforce Them" (1944, December 12). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 8. Retrieved March 8, 2019.

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