African Women and Religious Change: A study of the Western Igbo of Nigeria with a special focus on Asaba town
Abstract: This study focuses on a small ethnic group in the western part of Igboland called Asaba. It describes how the religious and socio-political role of women has changed, due to colonialism, modernisation, Western education and Christianity, which were brought by the groups of Europeans and Americans, who penetrated Africa in the nineteenth century. One of the major points of the thesis is that the freeborn women in the traditional “dual-sex”society of the Igbo lost their previous power to speak for themselves when the Igbo were Christianised. However, the women of slave origin happily adopted the new, more egalitarian faith.The dissertation is divided into three parts. The first part is the traditional aspect, which highlights the role of women in Igbo traditional society. The second is a theoretical and historical part. This part deals with the socio-economic and political changes, which took place between 1830 to 1910 in Asaba society, due to colonialism, modernization, Western education and Christianity, and the impact of these forces of change on Asaba women. The third part deals with the role of women in the Catholic Church in Asaba. It analyses the various women's organisations in the Catholic Church in Asaba and the roles, which they play in the church. The major conclusion arising from the present analysis is that with the coming of forces of change, such as colonialism, modernization, Western education and Christianity, the religious and socio-political roles of women changed in Asaba society.
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