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.

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