Sample Essay

Since colonialism spread through the African continent in a piecemeal fashion, gathering pace and momentum with each incursion, the traditional social structures increasingly began to feel the pressure of the forces that had been unleashed by this new phenomenon facing them on their coastlines.  Slave trade by both Arab and indigenous merchants had existed for a long time, but a fast-growing gender imbalance was being created by the advent of European slave trade, which coupled with the misappropriation of land by the colonizing population was beginning to result in a diminished role of women in matters of governance and the economic clout that they had once possessed.  (Broadhead, 1983).We must also remember that most indigenous African societies were either tribal in nature or had underpinnings of a tribal structure.  Hence, the status of one woman could differ significantly from that of another within the same community and similarly from one tribe to another.  This provided for certain tribes, such as Yoruba or Igbo in modern-day Nigeria, to have a predominantly patriarchal structure, where women enjoyed lesser public influence as compared to their compatriots in other tribal societies such as Dahomey and the Akan-speaking people of Ghana.  (Bay, 1998)

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