Patriarchy: The thorn in the side of African women

Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

Did you know that the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Patriarchy as the social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line. To put it mildly, men controlling an unreasonably large chunk of power in a society.

The smallest unit of any community is a family and in Africa, the head of the family is the father; whether dead or alive. The mother can in a lot of cases never head the family and even if they tried, they risk being frowned upon. A lot of girls are raised with the knowledge that they are mere commodities of trade in form of marriage, once they are of age. This is a decision made by men; they decide how much the girl is worth (usually a few heads of cattle, some goats and some household items, much less if she is not well-educated).

As goes for most black women in this world, an African mother is in the most disadvantaged position; she is led by the man and has no say whatsoever on any business regarding the family or community. And the biggest irony is that while many African communities are bleeding and constantly disadvantaged on the sake of the western world, these African mothers and women keep working hard, being responsible for building their family homes, raising the children, working, planting food from scratch, making sure the home is clean and in good shape and so much more. It is safe to say that a huge part of the wellbeing of the African continent lies upon the back of these women.

And this is the sad reality for many African women; their liberation and empowerment is met with strong resistance due to patriarchal ideologies that guide these communities. They are entrenched so deep that even the older women pass on the same doctrines to their daughters; to treat men like small gods and want nothing more than to live in their service forever.

For these societies to turn this vicious cycle around, young boys have to be educated and empowered alongside the girls. They need to appreciate and understand the value and purpose of their sisters, mothers and aunts. The ills of patriarchy need to be strongly highlighted and spoken against. Women play a major role in development and transformation of society, starting with their families; they need to be supported and acknowledged as equal partners by their husbands, fathers, brothers and uncles.

Many in the older generations, especially men, have delayed the empowerment of women through perpetuating partriarchy, even when the consequence have been to feel the pinch of under development of the beautiful and rich continent that is Africa. Elders, especially men, are regarded as the defenders of the community which means they need to ensure that their homes and communities are safe from internal and external threats. In other words, they should be expected to take up arms and protect women from the vice of patriarchy in the society.