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Manual Mother Is Gold, Father Is Glass: Gender and Colonialism in a Yoruba Town

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As a result of this assistance, Tegbesu named Hwanjile kpojito , a position which made her the richest and most powerful woman in the kingdom.

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This term is often translated as "queen mother" in English, though this is not entirely accurate. To be kpojito was to be a female "reign mate" of a king through an either literal or symbolic mother-son relationship, representative of a balancing of royal power, and to possess the authority to resolve religious disputes. Hwanjile solidified her and Tegbesu's rule through manipulation of religious beliefs, particularly those centered on the Dahomean vodun or gods. She imported two creator gods, Mawu and Lisa, from Aja and proclaimed them the rulers of the Dahomean pantheon.

Hwanjile established a home for them directly outside the royal palace, where she served as their powerful high priest. She also encouraged the use of fa divination.

Due to the key role which she played in creating a strong, centralised kingdom in less than a generation, Hwanjile is considered one of the most important figures in the history of Dahomey, and indeed of modern-day Benin. Following Hwanjile's death, she was replaced by a direct descendant who took on her name and her functions. This system of perpetual succession still continues, and successive Hwanjile have continued to be politically powerful.

Mother Is Gold, Father Is Glass: Gender and Colonialism in a Yoruba Town

In addition, a number of the gods introduced by Hwanjile are worshipped today in Benin. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Using an array of sources, she presents a historical account of gender, elite power, and authority in Ketu, Benin. Semley Wesleyan Univ. Ketu men and women participated in politics, drawing on a variety of social status and gendered relations. The author explores their actions and, in depth and with elegant style, describes the economic, cultural, and social conditions through which they interacted with French colonial authority. The book's Atlantic context is welcome. This work is a poignant, timely reminder that women were central to the making of African colonial societies because they infused indigenous ideologies and forms of resistance against colonial restructuring.

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Semley points to the ability of women of various classes and status to draw on indigenous economic and political ideologies to define and achieve economic, political, and ritual power within a hegemonic colonial society. Summing Up: Recommended. General and undergraduate libraries.


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Korieh, Marquette University. Lorelle D. Mothers and Fathers of an Atlantic World Epilogue.