On concubinage…continued

If you thought concubines are a legacy of the past, guess what? When the British came with their colonialism, they imposed prohibitions on slavery in Northern Nigeria. This was only halfhearted though, as the British policy implicitly accepted the patriarchal nature of concubinage. Colonial courts had to deal with cases involving slave women, some of…

Who were….all these women?

If there’s one thing that came out from reading about Nana Asma’u, it’s more women who we will probably never know more about outside a few sentences in diverse literature. Let’s share this frustrations together. Nana Asma’u wrote in 1837 of “Joda Kawuuri, Quranic scholar who benefited people in many towns…Yar Hindu the Quaranic scholar…

A lasting legacy

A Month in Western Sudan Beginnings: Degel and the Hijra Nana Asma’u was just one among other women who wrote in her time. Five of her sisters, and her cousin were writers and their works remain today but there may be countless others whose works have been lost in time. Nana Asma’u’s name is remembered…

A month in “Western Sudan”

Did you know that “Sudan” was the term used by Arabs historically to refer to lands south of the Sahara? Ah, it seems this north/south divide is older than I thought. “Western Sudan” refers to north of the river Niger. In this context “Western Sudan” will be the area in what is now Northern Nigeria….

Who was Qasa?

‘Who was…?’ a new series that explores the African women who pop up in history yet remain mysterious. After Mansa Musa, the most famed Malian king, came Mansa Maghan I and after him, Mansa Suleiman. Suleiman assumed the throne in 1341, he was described as miserly, forgetful or a liar by ibn Battuta the medieval…

Crossroads

In this cosmic space, there is no denying that we love history. Yet history is not just about what has happened in the past, it is also what is being created now. Life stories to me are like time capsules. They are important tools through which women can record their stories in their own words,…

On Alaba Ida

If you thought Ahebi Ugbabe was the only woman to befriend colonial agents and possibly help expand their hold on her community, think again. I present Alaba Ida, a royal wife of Ketu (a Yoruba kingdom in present day Benin Republic) who later in her life became a “queen” to the French. Born around 1854,…