Social Status

Welcome back! In this next blog, I will be continuing to discuss Jidenna’s “Classic Man” music video. Something that really struck out to me as a theme in the video was social status. As we’ve mentioned before in previous blogs, the video depicts people in very fancy and elegant dress, who are obviously of high status, as well as the kids who almost get arrested, who seem to have less social presence. They seem to be heading down the wrong path until Jidenna steps in and exposes them to learning. This topic sparked my interest in digging deeper into the history behind what role social status plays in life in Africa. My discussion will focus a little deeper on women in Nigeria regarding this topic.

Factors such as age, natal status, royal ancestry, and religious affiliation are just a few factors that play a role in a women’s societal place, but their relationship with men have largely  affected their social status as a whole. Power has been granted to certain women, but not exactly on females as a whole, and these places of power often did not match up to have an equal status to a man with similar social components (Robertson).

  

In studying the Nigerian female elite, Kristin Mann recognized that women entered the colonial society in many of the African states as subordinates to males of high social status. For a women to have the proper social presence, they had to rely on their positions as housewives or some other type of connection to a male in social power. This included their social presence, along with formal education and wage employment (Mann). Women’s role in comparison to men is a topic that can be talked about everywhere and anywhere, but I just find it appalling that in order to receive proper schooling and a good job with good pay, among other things as well, that a woman had to rely on having a man somehow connected to her. Was that really how she could prove how “worthy” or “deserving” she is of these things?

During post- colonial regimes, these actions were accepted as normal and were completely overlooked and unquestioned by policy makers. What goes unnoticed is how essential women are in the things that they do. For example, the large majority of women who do work for the economy, especially in rural areas, play a large role in agriculture. They are responsible of making sure there are no threats to growth of population, scarcity of food, conservation of resources, and the maintenance of a feasible ecosystem. Though they have serious responsibility in what they do, I learned about how they still suffered from poor living conditions and are never partners with men when it comes to decision making. 

In Western Nigeria, it is argued that traditional Yoruba gender stratification gives women freedom, but also ingrains inequality, which is often “culturally legitimized” (Afonja). These inequalities have become the typical social arrangement, where women are expected to achieve both traditional and modern expectations of “what they are supposed to be.” This explains very well the strong decline of women’s status in post-colonial African states. 

Seeing as this is a very broad topic that has so much more to talk about, I encourage you to continue reading the article below for more information! Enjoy!

Phil E. Okeke. “Reconfiguring Tradition: Women’s Rights and Social Status in Contemporary Nigeria.” Africa Today, vol. 47, no. 1, 2000, pp. 49–63. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4187307.

Education

Welcome back! In this blog, we will return to discussing the music video “Classic Man” by Jidenna. There was another significant moment in the video that caught my eye. As Jidenna is walking down the street early in the video, he notices two young, colored boys across the street about to get arrested. He walks over, intervenes, and talks to the police officers, who allow Jidenna to take the boys with him. He takes them under his wing and goes to a school, where he introduces them to topics like science, chess, math, karate, and etiquette, along with many other skills. In trying to relate this video to our class, I found myself wondering about the education system in Africa and how it might relate.

The first European missionaries in Africa set up Christian schools in the late 15th century, but they were not seen as widespread until around the 19th century. In the 1920s, the British implemented an “adapted education system” in Africa, which was modeled after the American school system that was segregated. This lead to Africans demanding more schools and better curriculum. They even started some of their own schools. With education as a top priority, they were focused on implementing universal primary education and better opportunities for secondary and higher education. The education of women and children was also given more attention. SAP’s, or Structural Adjustment Programs, worked towards less government control over social services; education, for example. I found this interesting because I would’ve expected it to be difficult to install proper education in Africa without government interference. Nongovernmental organizations still continue today to make education affordable and accessible to all (Decker).

 

Another interesting topic is in regards to the Bantu Education system in Africa. It was a system of apartheid that legally distinguished differences between education of whites and blacks. In 1964, an average of $16 was spent on each African student, while an average of $215 was spent on each white pupil. The Bantu Education Act of 1953 was very much against the black community in terms of apartheid laws and systems. It’s major point was to enforce racially separated educational environments. There continued to be a back-and-forth relationship between the school separations as the years went on. In 1974, the Afrikaans Medium Decree of 1974 stated that both Afrikaans and English would be used as languages for instruction in schools. Then the Soweto Uprising of 1976 took place. This was an anti-apartheid protest led by black students as they boycotted the Bantu System, where close to 600 people died. The Education and Training Act of 1979 continued to racially segregate educational environments until the Interim Constitution of 1994, where the majority of sections from the Education and Training Act were repealed, declaring this segregation unconstitutional (Weeks).

To bring it back to class and the music video, I think that Jidenna really makes an effort to show how just because the boys in the video are of color, it doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve the same opportunities and education as others, so he takes them to where they can explore those experiences, making a large impact and change in their lives. This is obviously such a broad topic that could be discussed to no end, so I encourage all of my readers to look further into it. It’s very interesting and there is so much to learn. See you next time!

 

https://www-jstor-org.muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/stable/pdf/4184757.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3Aa5c0b81c7248b43c77aee2026a9bfad8

 

https://www-jstor-org.muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/stable/pdf/2315482.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3Abfc1d57c5b66ede9a128c5d8703b1f87

 

https://www-jstor-org.muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/stable/pdf/720949.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A346b7a4f5da7cca91b31d7a4a722d301