The Bijagos Of Guinea Bissau Where Women Rule Over Men.

Once a woman becomes a mother among the Bijagos in Guinea-Bissau, she is given the maximum respect and gets immense prestige.

And being a women-controlled society, the birth of a female is especially significant, given that she would grow up to become a major figure in the organization of family and village life.

Located in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast, the Bijagos archipelago is made up of twenty main islands and some smaller ones. And despite the years of influence from Portuguese colonialism, women of the archipelago have the upper hand in social welfare, the economy, and the law.

Before the days of Queen Pampa Kanyimpa who protected the Bijagos islands against Portuguese conquest, European explorers described the Bijago people or the Bissagos “as a seafaring people, fierce and warlike, immersed in both the slave trade and piracy,” a report by CBD-Habitat Foundation said.

They defeated the Portuguese who wanted to take over their lands in the 1530s until the late 1900s when they were finally colonized. Queen Kanyimpa, the most famous sovereigns of the Bijagos Islands, later concluded a peace agreement with the Portuguese colonizers.

Today, the archipelago is inhabited by about 33,000 people living in a lush, fertile, and rich natural environment with power in the hands of women.

Consisting of small villages where houses are largely made of mud and straw, women are the owners of these homes, and they even constructed them. An island based on a subsistence economy, inhabitants own farms and grow vegetables, rice, and cashews, and women have economic autonomy, organizing labor and even working more than men.

Bijagos
Bijago men on errands

Even though men fish, collect sap and fruit of palm trees, clean and burn the fields for the planting of rice, they are “sometimes treated as children who are exempt from multiple responsibilities and allowed to enjoy more leisure and pleasure time,” said an article in mmstudies.com.

Generally, Bijago women are in charge of the housework; they cultivate small gardens and grow rice, process palm oil, cut straw to cover houses while educating their children and taking care of the village temple.

Apart from managing the economy and social wellbeing, women also choose their husbands and decide when they want a divorce.

“The girls choose their husbands by placing a large plate of food at the house of their choice. If the young man is willing to accept her proposal, he eats the food. After doing so, the future husband goes to live with the girl in the hut which she will raise, and the couple is then married… until she drags her husband’s belongings out the front door, thus indicating she does not wish to live with him any longer,” the CBD-Habitat Foundation report said.

Bijagos
Bijago girls dancing

Even at ceremonies, women are in charge of everything, from cooking, playing music, dancing to serving drinks to the men. Having an animistic religion and believing in reincarnation, most of their ceremonies come with a lot of rituals and mysticism, and women are in charge of relations with the spirit world as the society is led by priestesses who are chosen from maternal clans.

Among the Bijagos, one of the sources of power are clans, whose lines of succession are from the maternal side. Thus, the oroñô or chief of a village on the island is also chosen from these maternal clans in an activity that is regulated by a council of elders.

Despite depending on the natural resources of the archipelago including its palm forests, mangrove swamps, sand banks and aquatic zones, the Bijagos directly contribute to the preservation of the natural environment, leading to their area being declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1996.

There is more about the archipelago and what has been described as its rigid form of matriarchal system in the following video:


22 thoughts on “The Bijagos Of Guinea Bissau Where Women Rule Over Men.”

  1. What’s up to all, since I am truly keen of reading this weblog’s post to be updated regularly.

    It includes pleasant information.

  2. May I simply just say what a comfort to find somebody that
    really understands what they’re discussing online. You actually know how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
    More people need to check this out and understand this side of your story.
    It’s surprising you’re not more popular given that you certainly have
    the gift.

  3. Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google,
    and found that it’s truly informative. I’m going
    to watch out for brussels. I will appreciate
    if you continue this in future. Many people will be
    benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  4. Howdy! I know this is kinda off topic however I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa?

    My website covers a lot of the same subjects as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other.

    If you happen to be interested feel free to shoot me an email.
    I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog
    by the way!

  5. I simply want to say I am just very new to weblog and honestly enjoyed you’re blog site. Likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog post . You surely have beneficial articles. Thanks a lot for revealing your blog.

  6. Wonderful message. I discover something much more difficult on different blog sites day-to-day. It will certainly constantly be promoting to review content from various other writers and also practice a something from their shop. I?d favor to make use of some with the content on my blog site whether you don?t mind. Natually I?ll give you a web link on your internet blog site. Many thanks for sharing.

  7. An excellent share, I simply given this onto an associate who was doing a little evaluation on this. As well as he actually acquired me morning meal since I discovered it for him. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the reward! Yet yeah Thnkx for investing the moment to discuss this, I feel strongly about it as well as like learning more on this subject. When possible, as you end up being know-how, would you mind upgrading your blog site with even more information? It is extremely practical for me. Big thumb up for this blog post!

  8. I?d need to get in touch with you right here. Which is not something I generally do! I enjoy reading an article that will certainly make individuals think. Additionally, many thanks for enabling me to comment!

  9. I am impressed, I must say. very seldom do I stumble upon a blog thats both educational and entertaining, and let me tell you, youve hit the nail on the head. Your post is important; the matter is something that not many of us are speaking intelligently regarding. i’m very happy that I stumbled across this in my explore for one thing relating to it.

  10. Youre so amazing! I do not suppose Ive check out anything like this prior to. So great to discover somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thanks for starting this up. this internet site is something that is required on the internet, a person with a little originality. helpful task for bringing something brand-new to the internet!

  11. After research a few of the post on your site currently, and I really like your method of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark internet site listing and will certainly be examining back quickly. Pls have a look at my internet site also as well as let me recognize what you think.

  12. I am typically to blog writing and also i really value your material. The write-up has really peaks my interest. I am mosting likely to bookmark your website as well as maintain checking for new details.

Comments are closed.