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.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Ìbe Nne

Photo: The hairstyle for a new Igbo mother, according to P. A. Talbot, 1926. Musée du quai Branly.

Due to exogamy, women are able to manoeuvre between lineages in Igbo society, for this it appears that women were barred from positions to ‘secure’ the patriline. In most cases women are not directly in charge of ancestral veneration of male community founders in rites associated like breaking kola in the case of addressing the patriline (umunna), and masquerading. Men competed for land and resources and in most cases became the establishers of communities; in the case of Ohafia where women played the key role in establishing communities, rights to land can be traced through mothers.

Inheritance and land ownership are related to this idea of ‘preserving’ the patriline from women who are perceived as being able to bring in competing patrilines. Men negotiate bride money as it is the negotiation of a citizen, a women, being uprooted from one patriline (‘nation’) to another. A child born out of the official adoption of a woman (marriage) stays with the patriline they are recognised in, that of her father’s.

Wives are still recognised members of another patriline as can be seen by the various associations of daughters and the burial of deceased wives in their father's homes; wives can return to their patriline on divorce and daughters are potential adoptees of another patriline.

It’s no surprise that women’s institutions like that of the Omu, the Otu Odu, etc, are primarily women’s trade unions, because trade is one of the areas in society Igbo women could dominate since it was mostly a free domain outside of the structure of lineages.

Many Igbo women were the main income earners for their households, but this money was put towards the upholding the patriline of husbands represented in gestures such as the buying of titles for men, this also served to shield the economic power many wives had. Women are left with handling the issues of women and other issues outside of anything that may challenge the overall structure of the patriline which in past represented the sovereignty of the nation.

Gọ̀ - be in-lawed, ọgọ̀ - in-law, ngọ̀ - bride money? Ngọ̀, the in-law maker, is a symbol of the mixture of two families and the recognition of the adoption of a daughter into her husband's patriline, as she keeps hers (what may be termed her children’s ibe nne, matriline).

The matriline in reality is also very important, the matriline is the refuge for people who came to be adopted in it. Many rites, including burials, require the participation and recognition of the matriline in Igbo society.

Names like Nneka and Nnebuisi hold the Igbo view towards mothers. There is a reason why nwanne and umunne on a personal level are the main Igbo terms for siblings and kin.

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