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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Evolution of “August Meeting” Among Igbo Women in Southeast Nigeria  

August meeting is an annual congress by the Igbo women in August. 

It is a massive homecoming whereby Igbo women in the diaspora and the cities travel back to their matrimonial villages to meet with their local counterparts to discuss matters about community development, Conflict Management, and human development. 

The month of August every year witnesses a massive homecoming from different towns and cities across the world of “Igbo women” groups to their matrimonial rural hometowns, where they unite with their rural-based colleagues for what is now popularly known as the “August Meeting.” 

Also Read: History, Origin of the new Yam festival in Igbo land

What Number of Days Is August Meeting?  

The meeting is a three days ritual and it is divided into three parts, the first is held at the village level, the second within the community, and the third is also held in churches where thanksgivings are held to mark the end of the meeting  

Origin Of August Meeting 

These “mothers’ congresses,” as they truly are, were originally often geared towards self-help rural community development, but also have in recent times delved into conflict management, peace-building and human development in rural societies. 

In Igbo communities, women have long had meetings of their own, and such congregations have rightly emphasized as the base of women’s political power in traditional Igboland. 

These women’s associations, which have pre-colonial and ancient roots, have also given Igbo women strong and powerful political voices and symbolism. 

Also Read: The myth of Ahiajoku – originator of the New yam festival

Umuada And Otu Alutaradi Level

The formal leadership roles by which women became politically significant in Igbo traditional communities are at two interrelated levels: the Umuada and the Otu Alutaradi.  

The Umuadas are daughters of the community who have married into other villages but retain their ties with their community of birth.  

Otu Alutaradi are wives of the men of the village who have come from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds.  

  • Both groups maintain order, promote life and also create consolidation, joy and solidarity for themselves and for the village community.  
  • These women also had the right to convict or to acquit and to levy fines on other women. 
  • They would also insist on their decisions and could go to any length to carry them out.  
  • They were the watchdogs of the constitution and their leaders promptly called a general meeting when anything appeared to be going wrong in the town. They would bring the matter to the attention of the elders, whose refusal to act could also make the women leave the village en masse in protest.  

They continued to use this method during the colonial era, as shown during the Aba Women’s Riot in 1929. 

Also Read: Forgotten Igbo gods: A Lost Chapter in Nigerian History

August Meeting 

The concept of the “August Meeting” is an initiative of the Otu Alutaradi. These are women whose common bond is their place of marriage.

The transformation of Otu Alutaradi to “August Meeting” traced back to the colonial periods of mass urbanization which affected the Igbo social space along with most other parts of Nigeria, leading to the opening up of such urban centres as Enugu, Port Harcourt, Umuahia, Onitsha, Aba, Owerri, Calabar in the South East and elsewhere in Nigeria.

Within these cities, women also established various ethnic associations in a bid to provide some socioeconomic security to the urban migrant and to also maintain a link with their rural communities. 

Through this arrangement, they were able to maintain “urban-rural linkage” for development. This is what became popularly known as the “Home and Abroad” meeting in Igboland (“Abroad” simply means one who lives outside Igboland). 

The “Home and Abroad” meeting was the forerunner of the “August” Meeting. With time, the “Home and Abroad” meeting stopped and the women settled for “August Meeting” only. 

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