Politics of Wealth in Southwestern Nigeria. Why Ondo's Women Went to War

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This fascinating ethnographic study investigates gendered power in contemporary Nigeria in order to provide an understanding of The Ondo Women’s War of 1985. Sanctioned by Ondo’s female chiefs in the name of their female king, this tax protest escalated into rebellion when ordinary women threatened the use of their ultimate weapon –their own nakedness. Focusing on a specific Yoruba case history, this book challenges many western feminist assumptions about women’s lack of status in Africa.


“Dr. Eames offers us a rich and distinctive case study that complicates and challenges the general understanding of women’s roles in African culture and society. Elizabeth clearly shows that Ondo women are at the center of power politics, not at the margins as so many of her feminist colleagues have argued… Eames' work provides readers with the methodological, theoretical and ethnographic tools to examine the role of African women in modern sociocultural, political and economic institutions. This book is bound to be a standard reference for scholars interested in alternative narratives to the conventional and simplistic interpretations of Yoruba women.”
-Professor Jacob Kehinde Olupona,
Harvard University

“The complex, contradictory position of the Female King in Ondo’s political structure presents an ethnographic puzzle, which is solved through the author’s close reading of competing oral histories as well as her detailed observation of public ritual practices…The book provides further evidence of the widespread nature of females’ customary political representation…in which women used gender specific tactics (such as the curse of nakedness) to affect their living conditions.”
Professor Parker Shipton,
Boston University

“Dr. Elizabeth A. Eames offers a unique and fascinating case study of gender relations among the Yoruba during a period of rapid economic, political and social change. For Yoruba specialists and for gender specialists and Africanists more generally, it provides rare insight into the dynamics behind women’s struggle to preserve their economic independence and spiritually legitimated power.”
-Dr.Anne Sweetser,
Social Anthropologist and International Development Consultant

Table of Contents

Linguistic Note
Chapter One: Good Intentions: 1981

Relation of Domestic and Non-Domestic Productive Activity
Substantive Concern
The Yorùbá People
Responsibilities & Resources: The Hypothesis
Chapter Two: A Daughter’s Dilemma: Autobiography and Anthropology
Ode O?dó
Three Families
The Research
The Context of the Women’s War
November, 1985
Chapter Three: Women and Wealth in Ondó Town
The Ajé Festival
O?dó Chieftaincy
Images of Womanhood
Ajé, Aj? and Á??
Addendum to Chapter Three: The Structured interview
Chapter Four: Ten Days in November
Chapter Five: In The Realm of the Woman King, Priestess of Profit, Mother of Markets
Appendix 1:
Sketch Map of Ode Ondó
Appendix 2: Songs of the Odùn Ajé
Appendix 3: Major Categories in O?dó’s Title System
Appendix 4: Parallels Between Ondó’s Male and Female Hierarchies
Appendix 5: The Songs of the Ija Obinrin
Appendix 6: The Structured Interview (English Translation)
About the Author

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