The story of Mrs Chinwe Obiagu is a representation of the plight of the traditional African woman in a traditional African society.
Mrs. Chinwe who is from the south eastern part of Nigeria, is a petty trader, a mother of two kids and a beautiful bride. Her husband who is a farmer, Mr. Emeka is a loving and caring man, and also hardworking and well respected in the community.
On one occasion, after coming back from his farm, he sat down at the chair in front of his house, dozed off and never returned again. At first, Chinwe and their two children thought their husband and father was just having a rest, little did they know that he was gone into eternity. It was at the point, she called her husband to have dinner that was when she knew that something was wrong. She called and called and never got a response; only for her to come and meet him lifeless.
She started shouting and shouting and did all she could to have him back with the help of some neigbours, but unfortunately he was gone.
This was how a new chapter was opned for Mrs. Chinwe who was later accused for killing her husband, Mr. Emeka.
Some persons that followed up the story later reported some dehumanizing treatments that was given to Mrs. Chinwe the accused by the villagers and elders for killing her husband.
These inhuman and terrific sorts of treatment and more has been the plights of many women in Africa who eventually lost their husbands. They get punished for the death of their husbands; some of them get ejected from his house with their children exposing them to danger and the risky hands of the uncertain society, others banished from their ancestral lands, some banned from ever getting married again and others mourn for the decease for a very long period of time
In most African traditional societies, experience shows that women have been abused and marginalized, discriminated against and denied their rights in most spheres of human endeavours. The situation is worse for the rural women who have low literacy level and consequently have become mere tools at the hands of their husbands. The rural women work tirelessly from morning till late evenings, they are either working in their farms or doing petty trading in the markets in the bid to make ends meet in their families.
In most cases, these men are always not grateful of the effort of these women. Rather, they expect the rural women to be as loyal as ‘hired slaves’ been bought with a price. Yet, we have women who have contributed a lot to the development of the nation and also constitute a reasonable amount of the workforce in this part of the world. This is the scenario of women in Africa. They are perceived more as household properties than as co-partners and operators in development efforts and remain subjugated and oppressed. In most rural communities in Nigeria, inhuman and obnoxious traditional practices are meted out to widows at the death of their husbands. Unfortunately, most women now resign themselves to the culture of silence as a result of ignorance of what constitutes their rights in the family and the society at large. A typical example of the suppression of women can be illustrated in the introductory part of this essay.
Writing on the plight of women in the African community, Ekechukwu (1993) have observed that the women have little or no say in the community. They are only meant to be heard and not seen. They are regarded as second class citizens, majority of them are poor financially and educationally, they lack adequate health care and social security. They are even marginalized in decision making; their contributions to national development are not appreciated for the few exposed to education hut the majority are predominantly illiterates.
In the traditional African society, women are deemed to be responsible for the death of their husbands and are consequently subjected to serious inhuman treatments. When this is suspected, the woman is forced to drink the water used in bathing the corpse of her husband. If she survives from drinking the water, she is declared innocent. Never has any man been subjected to such dehumanizing and agonizing treatment. These abuses have thrived basically because of the mindset of the African society that the woman is a mere tool for child bearing, home keeping and other household functions, thus disempowered, the African woman finds herself abandoned to the whims and caprices of their male counterparts.
So What is Now the Solution?
In the African context, the brunt of the bitterness of education has been borne by the girl-child. There’s no gainsaying the fact that there was almost total neglect on the issue of educating the girl-child by most African parents in the 1800s to mid-1900s; only one in 100,000 girls could boast of University Education. This was evident in the roles and positions occupied by women in public or government places.
Brigham Young in his famous quote said, “You educate a man, you educate a man. You educate a woman, you educate a generation.” In this present day, it is believed that one of the most effective ways to end poverty in developing nations is through girl-child education. A Allan Bloom says, “Education is the movement from darkness to light.”
To correct our wrongs, we have to sporadically and swiftly expose our women to education. Quality education has always been a proffered solution to developing countries, because in a long run, every member of the society will become equipped and trained to have a particular skill and exchange for steady income; which will also turn the massive poverty level to little or zero level.
But engaging these women in education is also not an easy task, since they are no longer infants and have already contacted various agents of socialization.
We are left with only one option: Adult Education
These women needs basic education like, functional literacy programmes, health education, civic education, basic literacy programmes, etc to be able to function well and better, to be aware of these maltreatments and stand up not just as women but as human beings with the same laws guiding each living being.
UNESCO 2002 defines Adult Education as the entire body of organized education processes, whatever the content level or method, whether formal or otherwise, whereby persons regarded as adults by the society to which they enhance their abilities, enrich their knowledge, improve their technical or professional qualification or turn them into a new generation, and bring about changes in their attitudes or behaviours in two folds perspectives of full personal development and participants in balanced independent, social, economic and cultural development.
Adult education is for both literate and illiterate adults. It also helps to bring about changes in them for their personal development and for the development of the society they live in. The activities of adult education programmes helps the adults to adjust better on personal, social and economic means and fulfillment of obligations just like the adults in the rural settlement, such activities of adult education programmes includes: education for functional literacy and numerism, education for improvement of health, family life and productive efforts, education for basic science and technology, education for industrial and commercial development, social, civic and cultural education. Adult education programmes for the African women have positive impacts on individuals as well as the society where such individuals lives and these includes performing the function of inspiring a desire for change. It inspires the need to learn how to participate and influence the decision making processes.
The African woman is an active agent of economic and social change and environmental protection which are, in many ways and to various degrees in contrast to their roles as consumers. Africa Arise
Educate a girl-child today. Save Africa from decaying. Every year of schooling helps a girl to make better decisions for herself and her family.
(Educagegeon in this context is a combination of the cage and the dungeon the women are put into in this part of the world)
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