Ancient West African Women – Toppled Cornerstones

Christiana Knudsen (2016)

Academic / Educational   History   Non-fiction

This book is about ancient West African women, who were seen as cornerstones and effectively organised their own societies in ways that complemented their interaction with the men. It discusses how chattel slave trading, colonization, Christianization and Islamization toppled their standing and the subsequent impact on women and their societies.

About this book

The period between the 9th and the 19th centuries was a dark period in the history of West African Women. The effect of this dark period continues today, in part, in the form of persistent gender inequalities.
Prior to this period, ancient West African women were empowered to the point that they effectively organised their own societies in ways that helped complement their interaction with men. In those instances, matriarchal inheritance systems ruled. The phenomenon of females ruling societies was based on the basic acknowledgement that all men and women, great or humble, emerged into this world from the womb of a woman.
However, these matrilineal cultures were gradually destroyed by the arrival of, first, Islam, then the North Atlantic chattel slave trade, colonisation and, finally, Christianity. Slave trading was taking place across the world, but chattel slavery was first introduced in West Africa by a number of Western European countries.
Ancient West African Women is a short, crisp book which systematically explains how women in ancient West African tribes migrated from the Nile Valley in Egypt westwards to an area south of the Sahara, which we now know as West Africa. The book also polemically explores the lasting impact of chattel slave trading, colonization, Christianization and Islamization on the standing of West African women.

About Author

Christiana Knudsen

Christiana Oware Knudsen was born and brought up in Ghana. As a young, newly trained schoolteacher, she met the Danish, medical doctor, Peder Christian Kjaerulff Knudsen, at Koforidua, Ghana in 1955. They married and had three children. Later on they moved to Denmark to settle. However, her family connection with Denmark goes back long before she met her husband. As her book, THE THEOLOGIAN SLAVE TRADER shows, her mother’s family legend is interwoven in the affairs with the Danish slave-trading fortress, Christiansborg, over three hundred years ago. Also, over one hundred and fifty years ago, Christiana Oware Knudsen’s grandfather, Nana Kwaku (O)Ware, a regional chief, the ‘Gyasehene’, of the kingdom of Akyem Abuakwa, traded with the Danes for Danish guns, gunpowder and schnapps in his young days. This family trade continued with the British, after Christiansborg Fortress was sold to the British in 1850. Christiana Oware Knudsen holds a Cand Phil. degree in Social Anthropology from Aarhus University, Denmark. She has carried out research and published books in the field of Female Circumcision (THE FALLING DAWADAWA TREE: Female Circumcision In Developing Ghana, 1994), and Tribal Markings in Ghana, (THE PATTERNED SKIN: Ethnic Scarification In Developing Ghana, 2000). She has also researched in the UK, on topics such as Distant Spiritual-Healing as complementary to medical health [...]

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