Sample Essay

By marrying into the ruling families, free women could also hope to achieve direct or indirect influence in matters of communal importance.  This influence, however, was often a byproduct of many diverse factors, such as the society’s matriarchal or patriarchal structure, the woman’s social and economic status before marriage, her bridewealth, her age and position in the family that she had married into, the approval of existing elderly females and patriarchs, and the nature of her contribution to the family’s economic activities. (Mann, 1985)For a slave woman in the pre-colonial era, marriage mostly served as an avenue of freedom for herself and/or her children.  It also provided for provisions of better accommodation and upkeep in most cases, as well as a higher social position amongst other members of her community.  As earlier discussed, amongst the Muslim societies of the African continent, a female slave was mostly set free at the time of her master’s death if he had fathered any children with her.  Male and female slaves were mostly kept separate from one another and, as quasi-domestic slaves, these women were often much better treated than their male counterparts.  They were expected to contribute to the society’s wellbeing both in terms of their productive capacities as well as their reproductive faculties, and therefore a master’s sexual access to his female slaves was often considered a natural and approvable practice in most societies. (Cooper, 1994)  

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