Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Abiyamo: Theorizing African Motherhood

Oyeronke Oyewumi


Motherhood occupies a special place in African cultures and societies. Regardless of whether a particular African society displays a patrilineal or matrilineal kinship system, mothers are the essential building block of social relationships, identities, and indeed society. Because mothers symbolize familial ties, unconditional love and loyalty, motherhood is invoked even in extrafamiliial situations that calls upon these values. For example, in the Ogboni a traditional political organization which formed part of the hierarchy of governance in some Yoruba polities, members refer to each other as omoya - mother's child emphasizing that fraternal and sororal bonds derive from mother and the institution of motherhood (Oyewumi 2003a). My goal in this paper is to articulate Yoruba conceptions of motherhood as one African model.

Full Text:


JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

Published by Africa Resource Center, Inc. All inquiries about rights, permissions, reprints and license should be directed to AfricaResource.

Copyright © Africa Resource Center, Inc., 1999 - .