Courtesy Jonathan T. Reynolds

Southeastern Regional Seminar in African Studies (SERSAS)

Spring 2005 SERSAS Conference
15 - 16 April 2005

Norfolk State University
NSU Main campus
JMH Lecture (Madison Hall) Room 156 (auditorium)
Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Abstract: Narratives of Women from Precolonial Africa: A Project Report

Nneka Nora Osakwe

Not for attribution without permission of the author

Copyright 2004 by SERSAS and Nneka Nora Osakwe
All Rights Reserved

For centuries, much of what took place in pre-colonial Africa remained undocumented. Present documentations of African History, for example, were all originated by foreign efforts. But the fact remains that the truth about Africans, who they really are, their histories, stories, tales, governance, culture, social relations and the like can only be accurately and objectively told and documented by Africans themselves. One of the biggest responsibilities we owe our future generation is to ensure that the bits and pieces of what is left of the story of our roots and attributes are quickly documented before they go extinct. Extinction is a big problem when we consider that the traditional African setting which provided the right scenario for effective oral transfer of history, stories and tales from one generation to the next is gradually disappearing. Again the custodians of these valuable resources are fast passing on leaving behind a newer generation of Africans with very little and hazy knowledge of the African past. Perhaps the urgency and nature of this problem has resulted in the initiation of several oral history projects in Africa. Some cases in point are two oral history projects on Nigeria: "the Nigerian Hinter Land Project sponsored by UNESCO and focusing Slavery in the Bight of Biafra " and the Igbo Archival Project sponsored by The World Bank. Both projects and a few others sensitized the African academia and the general public to the need to embark on similar projects. As a research assistant in both projects, I became aware of several other areas which require urgent attention. One such area is the documentation of women's account of their social, political, and economic relations with the rest of the society. I developed an interest in this specific area and started work on it as a project in 2003. My paper is a progress report, with snap- shot sample narratives from the focal women of my study aged from 80 years up.

Nneka Nora Osakwe, Ph.D.
Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages
Albany State University
Albany, Georgia

Return to the SERSAS Home Page

Send corrections/suggestions to Kenneth Wilburn, Web Editor for SERSAS.

First Online Edition: 2 April 2005
Last Revised: 2 April 2005