See also Africa: Texts and Sources
THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN WESTAFRICA AND THE SLAVE TRADE
Arhin, Kwame The Political and Military Roles of Akan Women in Oppong, Christine ed. Female and Male in West Africa G. Allen and Unwin London 1983 (notes)
Members of the royal matrilineage had access to the largest tract of the land belonging to the community, the largest collection of slaves, mmonko, which freed their women from most menial services, and also the largest hoard of gold dust.
· female counterpart of ohene, of the same mogya (blood or clan)
· called 'mother' of the ohene, she was the ohene's most effective adviser and she had the right to administer to him a public admonition
· was abrewa - wisdom personified - thus moral guardian of females of the political community and a kind of moral censor
· examined adolescent girls before puberty rites, licensed marriage, was expected to say whether pregnancy had occurred before the rites
· foremost authority on genealogy of royal matrilineage
· played leading role in choosing successor to ohene
Akan matrilineage incorporated into it 'stranger' segments which in time became concealed. Stranger segments could be descended from slave women or freeborn women of another clan whose descendants were not eligible.
Regarding succession, Ohemaa consulted members of the matrilineage, her husband and community at large through her nkotimsefo - household servants - who were so selected as to represent various sectors of the community.
Kolawole, Mary E. Modupe, An African View of Transatlantic Slavery and the Role of Oral Testimony in Creating a New Legacy in Tibbles, Anthony (ed.), Transatlantic Slavery: Against Human Dignity, HMSO, 1994
- 107 Slave revolts, insurrections in Africa, en route and on the plantations in the Diaspora did not exclude women.
108 Revolts in slave warehouses at El Mina castle . . . cut across gender lines.
108 Women used oral as well as written poems, songs, folk-tales, proverbs, anecdotes, parables and fables to transpose African culture to the new world as well as relive their African experience.
- Manning, Patrick, The Impact of the Slave Trade on the Societies of West and Central Africa in Tibbles, Anthony (ed.), Transatlantic Slavery: Against Human Dignity, HMSO, 1994
- 101 Women enslaved in the interior of Africa tended to be kept by African owners.
102 The long experience of the slave trade must have had a profound effect on the thinking of Africans. . . . Slavery and the slave trade . . . brought dreams of wealth and power, as seen in . . . the golden regalia of Asante . . . On the other hand it brought the rejection of hierarchy and a strong desire for independence and equality. This egalitarian ideal is evident in the willingness of people to live in isolated villages to avoid submitting to slave raiders, and in the development of an artistic tradition, abstract in form, that emphasized ties to the ancestors and to such basic life forces as the earth. The position of women in African society today reflects both sides of the earlier choice: women play full and independent social roles, especially in commerce; yet the majority of slaves in Africa were women, and all women have suffered some oppression as a result.
- Manning, Patrick, Slavery and African Life, Cambridge, 1990
- 119 . . . since a slave woman had no lineage except that of her master, a man's sons by slave wives would be in his own lineage - or in no lineage at all. Thus for a man to marry his female slave provided more than the advantages of his personal power over here. It also gave him new control - not to be shared by his brothers or elders - over the labor of his offspring and the inheritance of his goods, without formally breaking matrilineal descent rules.
123 . . . the sharp increase in the number of slave concubines and wives in the era of slave exports, many of them in positions of utter dependence on their men, certainly served to degrade all wives and to drive them toward the position of the slaves.
- Morgan, Jennifer Lyle, Women in Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, in Tibbles, Anthony (ed.), Transatlantic Slavery: Against Human Dignity, HMSO, 1994
- 61 Those Africans sold on the transatlantic slave trade were the men and women who were not highly valued, for whatever reason, by the men and women who made them available to the European purchasers.
62 At these fortresses women were subjected to the sexual demands of the white men who were stationed there to oversee the business of enslavement. These factors, as they were called, required enslaved women to clean and cook for them as well as to submit to sexual advances. The only thing that could work in the favour of these women was that they were subjected to a stable situation which could ultimately provide them with means to escape or manoeuvre. . . .
This . . . could mean, for those amongst the first to be enslaved, weeks on board a ship before setting out on open sea. In this situation . . .women were particularly vulnerable to exploitation and assault on the part of European sailors anxious to give vent to their sexual appetites.
Once a loaded slave ship left the African coast, the seven or eight week journey to the Americas began. On many ships, women were allowed a limited degree of freedom which was denied to the enslaved men.
63 The women's relative freedom of mobility allowed them to move about and communicate with one another in a fashion the men could not. . . . women took advantage of that freedom to plan revolts or attacks upon the white sailors who enslaved them. For most women however, time above deck meant unwanted exposure. It subjected them to rape and attack from sailors.
65 Enslaved women's lives in the Americas were characterized, above all, by incessant work.
Beck, Evelyn, Bibliography: Gender and theTrans-Atlantic Slave Trade
Bush, Barbara, Slave Women in CarribeanSocietyRobertson, Claire and Klein, Martin (eds.), Womenand Slavery in Africa, U of Wisconsin Press, 1983.
Small, Stephen, RacistIdeologies in Tibbles, Anthony (ed.), Transatlantic Slavery: Against HumanDignity, HMSO, 1994
112 (quoting Angela Davis, Women Race and Class, The Women's Press, 1981) . . . 'rape was a weapon of domination, a weapon of repression, whose covert goal was to extinguish slave women's will to resist, and in the process, to demoralize their men.'