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  • Department: SOCIOLOGY
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1.1            Background of the study

During the pre-colonial era, women in various tribes and kingdoms that made up the present day Nigeria contributed to the sustenance of the kings groups. Apart from being mothers and wives and taking charge of the domestic sectors, women contributed substantially to the production and distribution of goods and services, they also took part in the production of palm oil and palm kernels, they participated in local and long distance trade in different part of Nigeria and were fully involved in the procurement and sales of various food items and related commodities.

Women in Edemaya were fully involved in food processing and they had traditional ways of preservation for example fish drying (smoking) and food processing etc. Again they provided music, dance required during religious activities. Women also officiated as priestesses, divine healers, traditional birth attendance and oftentimes as costumes. Education in pre-colonial times was functional; it enabled women to obtain skills in other to earn a living. Ogunsheye observed that:

A woman who was without craft or trade, or

who was totally dependent on her husband

was not only rare but was not regarded without contempt.

During the colonial era, policies and states were clearly against the women.  Colonial education curricular equally emphasized religious instruction and clerical skills for boys and domestic science for girls. In post-independence era, especially in the then cross River State and presently in Akwa Ibom State, the women have striven to make marks in the developmental quest of the state politically, economically, etc. It is in this vein that this study specifically focuses on women and socio-economic development in Edemaya from  1960 - 2016.

2.1     Statement of Research Problem

          Women in traditional society have been repaired as always playing a second fiddle to her men. They have always been seen to be playing a supportive role to her men. This, contributing very little to the socio-economic well-being of the society. During the colonial period the role of women in Edemaya community rarely changed despite the confrontational role they played in the women’s war of 1929 that sparked off nationalism in Nigeria directly or indirectly.

          Women’s contributions socio-economically to the development of Edemaya in the past independence era cannot be underestimated, though it is hardly appreciated. That women provide more than 95 percent of the food we eat in our country today is not enough justification to except their socio-economic contributions in modern times. This research work therefore affords the researcher the opportunity to expose the socio-economic contributions of Edemaya women in the past-independence era.        

1.3     Objectives of the Study

          The objectives of this work are:

       i.            To trace the tradition of origin, migration and settlement of the Edemaya people

     ii.            To expose an overview of Edemaya women economic endowment in the pre-colonial period        

  iii.            To examine how the women of Edemaya contributed to the socio-economic development of Edemaya between 1960-2016

  iv.            To highlighting it impacts of the women’s activities on modern Edemaya society

1.4     Significance of the Study

          It is anticipated that the results of this projects will be significant in numerous ways. This study is relevant as it will contribute to literature on women to the development of Edemaya with repairs to. It brings to public knowledge the historical status of Edemaya, its migration and settlements. The work provides an in depth knowledge of Edemaya women socio-economic and cultural practices and how it affects the people. The work provides a reference point for researchers who are desirous of finding out the contribution made by the women of Edemaya and its developmental impacts.

1.5     Scope of the Study

          The work centres on Edeemaya community because the researcher bails from there. The period 1960 – 2016 has been chosen to enable the researcher highlight the specific contributions made by the women socio-economically in the past colonial era which hither to has been regarded as nothing to write home about.

 1.6    Methodology       

          Data for the writing of this work were collected from both primary and secondary sources. The primary sources centered on oral tradition with emphasis on oral history. Oral tradition according to Jan Vansina is “the transmission of information by words of mouth from one person to another and from one generation to another”. Collaborating this was E. A. Udo when he said:

An attempt to write the history of a non-literate society is by no means an easy task to undertake. There is the is the problem of getting written records of history of the people conceived. And where no archaeological work has been carried out, the problem becomes acute. The only available source left open is oral tradition.

          Oral tradition also has to do with oral literature including myth, poetry, epic, folklore, lepend, eye-illnesses accounts or oral History. Great wisdom in however continued in oral tradition and if carefully analyzed, can provide materials for the reconstruction of history extinct communities. Mention has already been of oral history. These are eye-witnesses accounts given by people about events in which they participated or observed.

          Materials for this work were also collected from secondary sources like the university if Uyo library, Department of History and International Studies Resources Room and personal library of lectures in the Department. In these libraries consultation was made of books, Journals, magazines, internet materials and other unpublished works.               

1.7 Limitation of the Study

This work was not completed without certain constraints. For instance, a great number of persons who could have provided information for the writing of this work were alleged to have passed away. This therefore posed problem to the researcher in the area of Tradition of origin and migration of the Edemaya people. The researcher being a self-sponsoring student faced financial difficulties to enable her meet up with the repeated appointment to meet with her informants for interviews.

Other informants refused to honour appointment with the researcher on account of their tight schedule while others was as a result of illiteracy. Where appointments were honored, the informants refused the use of camera or video recorder to record the interviews for reasons best known to them. Despite these constraints, the interdisciplinary approach to historical reconstruction was adopted. Here, the weakness of an area was complemented by the strength of another and vice versa.

On the whole, there is no claim to perfection in any way as far as this study is concerned. It should rather be seen as an attempt to interpret historical data within the limits of available resources. Blame of whatever nature should go to the researcher and scholarly reactions provoked as a result of this study are welcome. This is in accordance with the view of Patrick Gardiner that “for a person to make meaningful contributions to the advancement of knowledge, his/her work must have provoked some useful criticisms for further researchers”. My humble effort here does not therefore conclude the work but rather open an avenue for futher researches. On this note, constructive criticisms are very much welcome.  

1.8     Literature Review                                                                           

          Linguistic evidence links the people of Edemaya with Ibibio who are believed are of the Bantu stock. The development which took place in the pre-colonial era was rather-primitive and traditionalistic, unlike in the colonial era which was more or less modernized.

Generally, the term “Development” connotes the attainment of a more desirable state of wellbeing in a given society such that the people’s enlightened yearning for the improved life are better met. Hence, development is usually directed towards a particular goal.

          The liberal scholars see development from different perspectives but in its elementary form it is inextricably tied to the economic domain. A scholar like Meier sees development as “the maximization of the growth of the GNP through capital accumulation and industrialization and Todaro contends that development is the capacity of a national economy whose initial economic conditions has been more or less static to generate and sustain an annual increase in its Gross National Product (GNP) at rates of perhaps 5 to 7 percent or more.

Development, through a nebulous concept encompasses many other things other than increase in GNP and industrialization. Okereke and Ekpe states that “The liberal scholars sees Development in terms of escaping from poverty are in absolute  agreement that growth in GNP is not a sufficient condition for the removal of poverty. Thus while World Bank emphasizes on the distribution of growth, the international labour organization (ILO) places premium on basic human needs.

Marxists scholar sees development from a multi-dimensional perspective. According to Okereke and Ekpe “When viewed from the dialectical materialist binocular, development focus on man and his well-being. As a result of this, human beings constitute the fulcrum on which it revolves.     The Marxist believes that the only way to overcome underdevelopment or backwardness is to really understand holistically the true meaning of development. According to Walter Rodney who in his book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa opines that;

Development in human society is a many-sided process; at the individual level, it implies increased skills and capacity, greater freedom, creativity, self-discipline, responsibility and material well-being… at the social groups level, it implies an increasing capacity to regulate both internal and external relations… in the past, development has always meant the increase in ability of guard the independence of social group.

If further goes to debunk the liberal scholars notion of development from economic perspective thus:

More often than not, the term development is used in an exclusive economic sense-the justification being that  the type of economy is in itself an index of other social features...A society develops economically as it members increase jointly their capacity for dealing with the environment. Taking a long term view, it can be said that there has been constant economic development within human society.     

Ester Boserup’s work on, “women’s role in Economic development” that brought greater attention to the importance of women’ role in agricultural economics and lack of alignment of development project with this reality. According to Boserup, “in the  vast and ever growing literature on economic development reflection on the particular problems of women are few and far “between” she indicated that women often did more than half the agricultural work, in one case as much as so percent and that hey also play an important role in trade.   The foundation for women in development bid by Boserup and others were built upon by the United Nation during the 1970s.

          The decade for women’s impact in development was remarkable in changing the policy discussions from women within the family towards an understanding of the complexities of women’s employment’s,  the women in Development Technology first coined in the 1970s by the women’s committee of the Washington D.C chapter of the society for international development (and based on the work of Boserup) stemmed from an efficiency recognition of women as untapped resource for economic development. The term and the approach were adopted and championed jointly by the United State Agency for International development office of women in development and the Harvard Institute of International Development in a sequence of projects and casebook through the 1980s, India in 1984, Development Alternative with women  for a new era comprised of committed women mostly from developing countries who questioned the impact of development on poor people especially women and voiced a sense of urgency regarding the need to advocate alternative development processes.