Perhaps it was the small scale of their political institutions that made Igboland such a good example of what a democracy should be. Their members would appear at night, masked, in the guise of supernatural beings. The basic unit of Igbo life was the village group, and the most universal institution was the role of the family head.
Any offenders in the community would be denounced. The head of each domestic group is responsible for its members. This was actually a valuable instrument Essay on how europe underdeveloped africa social control, in that in order to preserve the good name of their age-group, its members became involved in disciplining and restraining those who tended to cause trouble within the community.
Some of the first European visitors to this region were struck by the extent to which democracy was truly practised. There was a hierarchy of ascending titles that were to be taken in order, accompanied by an ascending scale of payments.
On a smaller scale, Igbo families generally lived in compounds, each a small segment of the village group. However, these slaves were more often as not absorbed into the lineage of the master they served, becoming their companions and often marrying their daughters.
A few Igbo states, such as Aboh and Onitsha, which had a tradition of origin from elsewhere, were ruled by kings, which were regarded as sacred and lived in ritual seclusion. In general, however, kingship was an unfamiliar concept to the majority of Igbos.
In some areas the government of chiefs and elders was composed of a governing age grade, in others the council of elders was made up of the oldest members of particular families.
The nature of these institutions was extremely flexible — for example, a man who had proven his skills at war in the past might be selected to lead the people through this time of crisis, yet would be expected to relinquish this leadership once the time of crisis was past.
However, the decisions taken by these kings were by no means final, they were often challenged and overruled by other titled men with whom they were required to consult. His role primarily involved settling family disputes, and because he controlled the channel of communication with the all-important ancestors, he commanded great respect and reverence.
Wives were ranked according to the order in which they married the common husband. They rested on deliberate deception and were extremely expensive, far beyond the reach of the poor.
Titles played a major part in this society. The system acted as a simple form of social security, in that those who acquired titles paid a particular fee, and then were entitled to share in the payments of those who later acquired titles.
A combination of popular participation and real respect for those with ability and experience, led to the smooth running of political institutions. In Igbo society, seniority by age regulated social placement.
Another important feature of Igbo kinship apart from the precedence given to the male, is the idea of seniority by birth. In a judicial case, it was the responsibility of the lineage head to try to settle the matter before bringing it to the elders, who would hear the case in public.
If the facts of a case were unclear, then in some instances the Igbo would turn to an oracle or to divination. Married life was the normal condition for adults, and polygamy for the men was the ideal — in fact it acted as an important indication of status.
However, their good reputation did depend on the fairness of their judgements, which kept their tendency for exploitation in check. A political institution that was widespread but not universal was that of the age-grade. The first male and female children of the domestic group, irrespective of the ranking of their mothers, were given special status, and occupied very important and esponsible social positions in the family.
Each age-grade was responsible for specific areas of community service, and this often promoted rivalry between the groups.
Secret societies were also an instrument of social control. The anonymity of the members and their supernatural aura meant that this whole performance was taken with great seriousness. This was usually the oldest man of the oldest surviving generation.
Usually, the kinds of decisions that had to be made in traditional Igbo societies were either judicial or connected with relations with other groups. The head of the compound was usually the oldest male and within each compound were clusters of huts belonging to different domestic groups.How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney Essay How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney, was one of the most controversial books in the world at the time of its release.
The book seeks to argue that European exploitation and involvement in Africa throughout history. Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, ).
Walter Rodney is the author of many pieces focusing on African studies, one of his most influential being How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa Details of traditional Igbo government and social structure varied from place to place throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but its characteristic nature remained the same.
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Details of traditional Igbo government and social structure varied from place to place throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but its characteristic nature remained the same.
The basic unit of Igbo life was the village group, and the most universal institution was the role of the family head.
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