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Accepted Paper:

The Eye of the Earth: Women and the Environment in Igbo Festival of the Earth Goddess  
Chinasa Abonyi (University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria)

Paper short abstract:

The earth environment is threatened by all kinds of environmental pollution. Yet, indigenous ecological measures are fast diminishing. Using Gaard’s integral ecofeminist theory, this paper demonstrates the efficacy of traditional festivals and women participation in environmental sustainability.

Paper long abstract:

Globally, the earth environment is threatened by all kinds of environmental pollution and degradation. This however, increasing the demand for environmental safety and sustainability. In contemporary Nigerian literature, ecological writings are dominated by postcolonial eco-critique of socio-economic and political marginalization of the oil rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria. While flooding and erosion are ignored as they wipe farms, bring down houses and split roads in very many African communities including Nigeria. From studies, indigenous environmental measures are largely abandoned for unattainable ecological policies. This paper argues that Egba-ala festival of the earth goddess in various communities of Nsukka Igbo is a celebration of the centrality of life which includes soil and waters and the women who share with the environment in life giving and sustenance. In Nsukka Igbo, women environmental relationship is institutionalized in the title of traditional council of women (umuada-oha, umuada-ideke and ndiomu-oha). These titled women were the eye of the earth. Culturally, they are the gods and the earth is their domain. Thus, the keepers of the environment. Using Greta Gaard’s integral ecofeminist theory and life interconnectedness, this paper applies participant observation and narrative technique to demonstrate the efficacy of traditional festivals and women participation in environmental sustainability. It further interrogates the role of Western religion and patriarchy to argue that the fast diminishing tradition of the annual festival of the earth Goddess opens the area to environmental disaster such as erosion, flooding and soil depletion.

Panel Eco003
Centering Ecologies in re-configuring Africa studies – emerging perspectives
  Session 2 Wednesday 2 October, 2024, -