The most potent influence enjoyed by a queen or queen mother was in the matter of succession and while women could rise to become sovereigns and lead their nation, this was a rare occurrence at best. Similarly, before the advent of colonialism, a lot of West African nations had been practicing bicameralism in principle.Under the system, notable men and women were elected to two separate councils or assemblies that were jointly responsible for matters of public administration. This provided women with an opportunity to rise to positions of political importance on the basis of their social and economic clout in the society, and provided for an element of female leadership. (Berger and White, 1999).
Marriage was a vehicle often used by both free and slave women to enhance their social status and the social mobility that it afforded them. While the concept of bridewealth served as an indicator of a woman’s social standing before marriage in pre-colonialAfrica, it also allowed them a measure of financial independence. This empowered them not only in the context of their domestic life, but also enabled them to further consolidate and improve upon their social standing amongst other women in their community. More often than not, this had direct bearing on the respect they could command within the community itself.
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