In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

169 Chapter 8 When Yaa Asantewaa Meets Deborah: An African and Biblical Dialogue on Women Leadership in Liberation War Heritage Kojo Okyere Introduction Many women in Africa today are weighed down and inhibited by androcentric customs and traditions in their societies (Aina, 1998; Amoah, 2002; Oduyoye, 2007). Although in some traditional African societies, women are well positioned within the public arena (such as among the Akan1 who have the office of a queen mother and also allow for women chiefs), there still exist certain customs, practices, and beliefs that subordinate women to men. For instance, some African men are generally of the view that women are naturally weak, and inferior to men who are strong, courageous, and fearless (Kambarami, 2006). Such a belief is supported by several proverbial sayings. Two examples below from the Akan of Ghana paint the reality and conviction within African societies on the subordinate position of women to men. - Saying 1: s tuo toa, twere b rima bo. - Literal Translation: A gun only goes off when it rests on the chest of man - Saying 2: Ţbaa tŢn nyadoa, ŢntŢn atuduro - Literal Translation: A woman sells garden eggs and not gun powder According to the first saying, men undertake difficult tasks. Women are weak and should be given less demanding tasks. This explains why in traditional Akan setting, there is the notion that the place of women is in the kitchen. Also when women face problems 1 The Akan is a multi-ethnic grouping occupying a large part of the southern part of Ghana. They constitute 47% of Ghana’s population (GSS, 2013). 170 that demands courage such as encountering a snake, they often yell, “mmarimma mmra o” meaning “men should come and help them out”. The second saying affirms the notion of women’s frailty by limiting the exploits of women to less demanding and aggressive tasks such as selling garden eggs. Sayings such as above explain the reasons why in some Akan communities, when there are meetings to discuss pressing problems, the gathering would be mainly constituted of men. Women stand some distance away from the men and observe the men deliberate on the issue (this is a personal observation from Ekoo, a village in the Central Region of Ghana, where I currently reside). Thus among the Akan, courage, bravery, strength, and heroism reside in men. Largely, women are not viewed as capable of exhibiting these masculine attributes. Revealing of these proverbs, therefore, is the cultural ideology of androcentricism. Although masculinity has positive benefits to it (Englar-Carlsom & Kiselica, 2013), the ideology that females are incapable of displaying courage, strength, and bravery too often degrades the image of women and constrains their contribution to development. However, several historical antecedents in African heritage challenge this view. Nowhere is this male chauvinistic ideology conspicuously challenged than in the traditions of Africa’s liberation. As wars fought to free peoples from cruel oppressions of foreign enemies, liberation wars in Africa were occasions when values of valour, strength, and bravery were needed. Per the above Akan, women have no place in such spectacle. But this was not the situation during the trying period of many African societies in their battle with colonial forces. Indeed, there are recorded events where some women demonstrated these so-called masculine attributes, and were the main protagonists in the fight for freedom for their people and societies. Examples of such courageous African women include Yaa Asantewaa of the Asante of Ghana, Nzingha of Ndongo (present day Angola), Queen Nyamazana of pre-colonial Zimbabwe, and the “Mino” of Dahomey (present day Benin) (Esherick, 2004). These examples challenge the androcentric ideologies which have fostered and perpetuated male interest over and against female concerns and contributions to society. They also 171 question the cultural legitimacy and acceptance of the image of African women as docile and lacking power. Despite the access to education, economic opportunities, and political participation by African women today (International Alert, 2012), the goal of an equal playing ground for women to unleash their innate competences in the march towards a sustainable world is far from reality. Women in Africa are continuously denied education, freedom of speech, and economic empowerment (Tuwor & Sossou, 2008). Recently in Kenya, the United States President, Barack Obama, charged Kenyans to end discrimination against women, since it retards their development. Although it cannot be excused, discrimination towards women stems from culturally constructed androcentric ideologies which have not changed much over the years even in the face of modernisation...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.