Africa’s tale of two tribes, led by Women


The Akan People

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Akan people living in the Abidjan region of Côte d’Ivoire

The Akan people are a majority in Ghana, where they predominantly reside. The Akan social organization is fundamentally built around the matriclan, wherein one’s identity, inheritance, wealth, and politics are all determined. All matriclan founders are female, but men traditionally hold leadership positions within the society. These inherited roles, however, are passed down matrilineally—meaning through a man’s mothers and sisters (and their children). Often, the man is expected to not only support his own family, but those of his female relatives.

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Asante princess,
The Ashanti tribe in Ghana are also known as an
Aduana, Agona, Asakyiri, Asenie, Asona, Bretuo, Ekuona and Oyoko; and their tribe is the largest tribe in Ghana and they are one of the few tribes in west Africa

The political units above were likewise grouped into eight larger groups called abusua, similar to clans in other societies: Aduana, Agona, Asakyiri, Asenie, Asona, Bretuo, Ekuona and Oyoko; or sometimes more than these. The members of each abusua were united by their belief that they were all descended from the same ancient ancestress, so marriage between members of the same abusua was forbidden. One inherited or was a lifelong member of the lineage, the political unit and the abusua of one’s mother, regardless of one’s gender and/or marriage.

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“The Akans in Ivory Coast and Ghana are believed to be descendants of ancient Egyptians 

According to this source of further information about the Akan, “A man is strongly related to his mother’s brother (wɔfa) but only weakly related to his father’s brother. This must be viewed in the context of a polygamous
society in which the mother/child bond is likely to be much stronger than the father/child bond. As a result, in inheritance, a man’s nephew (his sister’s son) (wɔfase) will have priority over his own son. Uncle-nephew
relationships therefore assume a dominant position.”

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The Royal Ashanti Marriage

“The principles governing inheritance stress sex, generation and age – that is to say, men come before women and seniors before juniors.” …. When a woman’s brothers were available, a consideration of generational seniority
stipulated that the line of brothers be exhausted before the right to inherit lineage property passed down to the next senior genealogical generation of sisters’ sons. Finally, “it is when all possible male heirs have been exhausted that the females” may inherit. Thus, simply put a person belongs to his mothers family. A person may inherit their Ntoro from their father but, they do not belong to their fathers family. Thus, the Culture is matrilineal.

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Map of Ghana showing shaded areas where the Akan people of Ghana occupy

The Bijago People

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Bijago matriarch and her family.

On the island of Orango Grande, in the Bijagos Archipelago, off the coast of Guinea Bissau, there is a matriarchal society where women possess all the power, where they organise themselves into associations which manage the economy, social welfare and the law.

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Map of Guinea-Bissau; Capital Bissau (black square); major Bijagós islands

It is they who impose sanctions, direct, advice and distribute goods, and they are respected as the absolute owners of both the house and the land. Here it is the man who has the obligation to dress very well to attract the attention of a woman. Women hold the supreme power of divorce in marriage. Men are turned to only for the tilling of the fields, hunting monkeys and fishing.

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This African tribe is dominated by the women. Here, the men are required to dress up really well to attract the attention of the women.

Bijago also known as Bissagos,Bojagos,Anaki, Bidjogo, Bidyogo, and Bujagos are an ethnic group which can be encountered only in Guinea Bissau. The Bijagos islands, is the only deltaic archipelago on the Atlantic coast of Africa and it comprises 80 islands and covers an area of nearly 10,000 km off the coast of Guinea Bissau.It is argued that the country`s name “Bissau ” came from the corruption of the name “Bissagos.”

Bijago warrior dancers displaying their intense dancing skills

Bijago have traditionally resented all centralized authority,whether Portuguese,French, English, German or contemporary government officials. In 1447,when the Portuguese explorer, Nuna Tristao, tried to conquer the Bijagos, they killed him instantly because they do not want any form of rule except their matriarchal traditional system that create chiefs to rule them.

Traditional Bijago fire dance

The Bijagos rose up in rebellion against the Portuguese in 1900,1913-1915,1917,1918,1924 and 1936. Portugal did not consider the Bijago as pacified until 1936.

Written by James Gathitu

I am a writer, performer, creative entrepreneur, and adventurer! My journey has been crazy and has led me at this very moment to you.

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