Saturday, August 13, 2016

IGBO WOMEN'S AUGUST MEETING

As usual my Naija Tour can't be said to be complete without a trip to the southeastern part of Nigeria. Interestingly, I haven't made one in August since it became official to make such cross-country trips an avenue to explore the environments that I visit before this time. So when a two week break fell on my lap once again to do as I deemed fit, I couldn't pass on the opportunity to add the southeast to my traveling itinerary.


As a member of the executive of my village association in my place of residence outside of Igboland, I have noticed that every August the women wing of such Igbo associations don't meet unlike the men in August, as they are said to have traveled to the East for AUGUST MEETING. A discovery that I had to make rather than just automatically know, seeing that I'm no Catholic or Anglican, neither was I brought up in the village to know about these things till I became my own man. For this sake I was determined to find out what happens during these meetings in the east.


Turns out that in that month of August when children are usually on vacation, the dominant Christian denominations in the eastern part of Nigeria, organizes a weeklong (usually) convention-like program for its women, based at home and abroad. Though many of the women may belong to Pentecostal churches in the cities and towns across Nigeria and outside of it, they retain their membership of either the Catholic or Anglican Churches back at home in the east. It is to these that they return during the "August Meeting".


These Igbo women, or non-Igbo women married to Igbo men who are Catholics or Anglican are compelled to attend these meetings annually in the village or town of their husband's ancestry, usually in the early days of the month of August but not later than the second week of the same month. They attend the meetings in uniforms, consisting of a white blouse or top (which for so many women have begun to turn blue due to use of WASHING BLUE apparently to improve the "whiteness" of their fabric), and a wrapper, which may not be that uniform nationally, but more like uniform for the states where the women are coming from to the east.

A CROSS SECTION OF WOMEN ATTENDING "AUGUST MEETING" IN ANAMBRA STATE, SOUTHEASTERN NIGERIA.

Though the program is declared open by a member of clergy, with some words of admonition, the activities are soon taken over by the women for whom the meeting is designed. They provide lecturers amongst themselves who take them on topics from the spiritual to the not so spiritual, up to the very mundane. Lofty ideas are shared during these meetings, including how to better the lots of the less privileged in their midst amongst others using financial contributions from members, with those who have been defaulting having theirs calculated in arrears, sometimes with some interest. Donations are also welcome, even amongst non-members and the menfolk.


There's no gainsaying the fact that the August Meeting affords the women an opportunity to network and fan the embers of camaraderie amongst one another. On the vain side of things, it is also an occasion where they size one another up, and with lots of gossip permeating the air (as with some women, who will rather be outside of church premises sharing tales while their peers are within the church taking in the various programs organized for their individual and mutual development), it's no surprise that once a while conflagrations occur but thankfully such are quickly put down and erring parties appropriately sanctioned.


The Igbo are a consensus seeking people, hence you'd find them meeting at varying levels of the societal strata, in fact I surmise that if infrastructural development can be brought about singly by the act of meetings, Igboland will be like Dubai or even better. Though that utopia may not have been reached, the meetings have in no small measure led to the development of that marginalized region of Nigeria since after the civil war in 1970. It is my hope and desire above all, that these August Meetings will reap fruits in the direction where Igbo women wouldn't need the validation of the menfolk (in marriage or the likes) to be considered fulfilled, but rather to be fully emancipated in all  ramifications by their own right, of their own will.


'kovich


PICTURE CREDIT:
- http://www.anambrastate.gov.ng


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