Pre- to Post Colonial Ibo (Igbo) Culture:Gender Roles By Oziel Carrera


Ibo (igbo) culture in Nigeria changed much from pre colonial to post colonial times. One aspect of this tribes culture that can be compared from past to present are gender roles. Men and women differ a lot in pre colonial Nigeria, roles are completely different . Post colonial has some differences as well. Gender roles in this culture are significant because of the overall way the society is run depends mostly on these roles, especially the women's roles. Nearly every aspect of Igbo society is gendered, even crops."His mother and sisters worked hard enough, but they grew women’s crops, like coco-yams, beans and cassava. Yam, the king of crops, was a man’s crop"(Achebe, 22-23)

Pre - Colonial Women Role

Source: of-Igbo - women- and- children
  • Women in the Igbo tribe were known as weaker in power and overall status. Though, they still played a big part in the Igbo tribe society.
  • The dominant role or mission of women is to make pure wives for honorable men.(Falole)
  • From marriage women are expected to play a submissive role to their husbands, do house work and domestic chores, farming, and bare many children.
  • Women in this society also have little to no education.
  • In Things Fall Apart, it is portrayed that men are openly allowed to beat their wives in any case. Ekwefia, one of Okonkwos wife, cuts leaves off banana tree. Okonkwo's immediate response was to beat her. " without further argument Okonkwos gave her a sound beating...". (Achebe, 38)

Pre Colonial Men's Role

Igbo man (Source:
  • Igbo men are the dominant gender in society, ruling their families and wives, mostly in control."Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper..."(Achebe,13)
  • Again, men have the right to beat their wives in any circumstance, making their dominance more obvious than ever.

Post Colonial Men And Women

The roles of both gender post colonial have altered greatly. Most characteristics of pre Colonial culture have improved or changed in a positive way for those in the Igbo society.


Present day Nigerian women are more privileged than women back in pre colonial times in Nigeria.

  • Women have the right to earn titles, which back then, only Igbo men could receive.
  • Access to education is now available, meaning women could accomplish more in thirty society than before. Earning themselves special occupations and positions.


Men could be said to be somewhat equal to women now. Unlike before, where women did the majority of domestic work, and chores, and men did some. Overall, they have more responsibilities than before. They also don't live separate from their wives, which means women can talk to their husbands freely. Basically, equality for both genders came with colonization.

Overall Changes From Pre to Post Colonization

Pre Colonist

  • Women had little power
  • Men were the dominant sex
  • Women were beaten
  • Women had no education
  • Women did majority of work
  • Gendered aspects of Igbo society

Post Colonist

  • Females and males did equal work in society
  • Men have more responsibilities
  • Women have access to education
  • Husband and wife relationships aren't so harsh
  • Men and women are equal
  • Women status improved and right to titles gained.

Works Cited Sources

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Toronto: Anchor Canada, 2009. Print.

Falola, Toyin O. "The Role of Nigerian Women." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 20 Nov. 2007. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.

"Igbo." Encyclopedia Of World Cultures. . .March 23 2017.

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