Essay Sample on Matrilineal Culture in African Societies: Girlchild Equal to Boychild

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1093 Words
Date:  2023-04-04

A meaningful number of African societies had employed matrilineal culture where the inheritance from the progeny was not from the father and his family as known in many societies but was from the mother together with the maiden family. The practices are highly used in Ghana and some societies in Nigeria which have imposed more roles to women. Interestingly, girlchild in the ancient African societies possesses the same values as the boychild, if not more. Religious interferences have also been witnessed in masculine and feminine principles. For instance, areas where Islam has strong roots like in supra-Saharan Africa in Egypt and Mauritania, responsibilities of women have been highly shaped by the tough precepts of that religion.

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During the pre-colonial African society, women had a critical role in social, political, and spiritual affairs. They used to be agents of propagations in the genetic stocks, culture preservations, societal cohesion, and also in the growth of the economy. Their roles ranged from giving birth and nurturing babies, upbringing the children, administering a communal moral value for the common good together with undertaking various social, economic endeavors. Therefore, if the African way of extended family links known as communalism where people have an obligation of being responsible for others, is surviving of much owed towards endurance as well as the flexibility of the African women that we must respect.

In the political and military arenas, the pre-colonial societies in some ancient Africa, like Nigeria, comprised kingdoms and mini-states where each of them was characterized by variations in terms of political structures that was differentiating it from the rest. The two major political structure was composed of constitutional monarchies and democratic republics. Before the colonial rule was formed in Africa, the African queens, in some cases, used more political power than the real rulers. The famous women or the queen mothers like Nandi of the Zulu, together with the queen of Egypt, were highly recognized.

Besides, the gender principle allowed some women to be in good positions like the queen mother in the Akan of Ghana, whose crucial role included establishing the wellbeing of all women and children in the entire nation. For instance, this woman had her land where she got revenues. She also had her staff who were responsible in the creation and implementation of the education system of the nation. Therefore, the whole country was comfortable with the Queen Mother together with her staff as they controlled the structure, organization, and other affected areas. As depicted in this example, it is clear that the gender principle had assisted the visionary women in molding the whole vision of the nation.

Also, African women like Queen Mother were in charge of childbirth, aging, and marriage ceremonies. In some nations in Africa, the wife of the king had the same crucial roles as the Buganda of Uganda. Their role included selection and endorsing the successor of the king and sometimes even in the nomination. African women sometimes also ruled directly and had supreme powers and authority over other inhabitants. Whenever she made rules, no one could defy it since she had supreme military, political, spiritual, and economic powers. A good example is Queen Amina in Hausa state. She was known as a strong warrior and an undefeated leader. Another example is queen Nzinga of Matamba, who ruled for 36 years in Angola, where she had established a very powerful army that was able to fight against the Portuguese.

In the Christian spiritual perspective, there are named women in the New Testament. A good example is Candace, who was the queen of Ethiopia ruling in the first century A.D. The bible records that there was an angel who spoke to Philip and told him to go to the south from Jerusalem to Gaza. At the same time, it is said that Candace, the queen of Ethiopians, had gone to worship in Jerusalem, and she was on her way back. She was one of the Cushite queen leading Meroe.

In ancient Africa, the gender principle had also enabled women to take roles in the economic wellbeing of the communities. In the cultural setups, a good example is Kikuyu of Kenya, where they were the major food givers and had authority in the ways of using land and cultivating it. Therefore, as depicted here, Ancient African diversity gave women some values in offering productive labor as well as in the maintenance of their rights in domestic dimensions. However, colonialism had a negative effect on women's status in African society. Bridewealth had, for instance, given women a considerable economic dependence.

There were emerging financial constraints that males started to experience during colonialism, which made them seek to control women by the use of trade and market systems that they had formed. Nevertheless, through social and cultural constructions, masculinity and femininity resulted in complementarity between men and women in ancient Africa since the principle of gender was both asymmetrical and complementary. This was therefore highly enhanced by marriage, which was a major social accomplishment, and women were to marry as early as possible. Marriage was one yielded way of gender principle that ensured the totality of human existence.

Gender principles in African societies viewed men and women as belonging to different dimensions of existence. In the gendered cultures, they were put within differential space patterns, which brought about differences in various structures facilitating power access, property acquisition as well as participating in social activities. For instance, the Boran people in Ethiopia and Nama society in South Africa, have women and men who have very distinct roles which never overlaps. For instance, hut building among the Boran is exclusively for women, while men's role is defending camps, cattle, and shrines.

The same case also happens in Nama men who are supposed to manage all their resources that are away from their home as well as participating in pollical activities. Their women are solemnly responsible for handling all domestic activities. Some of these spatial differences negatively exclude women from accessing prestigious public spheres, for instance, what happens in the mosque. Besides, gender ideologies have conveyed women having social, biological, and also psychological inferiority. It is portrayed when men are viewed as normative models of humanity and women being an afterthought.


Alameen-Shavers. "Chapter Fourteen (Re) Locating the African Woman Within African Historiography: Methodological Considerations For Producing Gender-Balanced History." Africana Methodology: A Social Study of Research, Triangulation, and Meta-theory (2018): 288.

Gay, Geneva. "Cultural Diversity and Multicultural Education." Curriculum Inquiry 43, no. 1 (2013): 48-70. Retrieved from

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Essay Sample on Matrilineal Culture in African Societies: Girlchild Equal to Boychild. (2023, Apr 04). Retrieved from

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