Posted: 2017-10-13 01:31
Iron technology was probably brought across the Sahara by travelers from North Africa, says Rod McIntosh, an African specialist at Yale University. But archaeologists are looking at the possibility that West Africans developed iron-working technology autonomously, possibly starting with the Nok. Iron technology, and whether it was imported from across the Sahara or developed in West Africa, is currently a red-hot topic in the scholarly community. Skeptics of autonomous development are accused of denigrating the achievements of African technology, whereas believers are accused of lacking hard evidence. "It has become a political debate," says Breunig. He will not commit to one side of the argument over the other before he excavates more Nok smelters, which he plans to do with a French archaeometallurgist next year.
Division of Labor by Gender. In general, labor is divided in Nigerian society along gender lines. Very few women are active in the political and professional arenas. In urban areas, increasing numbers of women are becoming involved in the professional workforce, but they are greatly outnumbered by their male counterparts. Women who do manage to gain professional employment rarely make it into the higher levels of management.
Land Tenure and Property. While the federal government has the legal right to allocate land as it sees fit, land tenure remains largely a local issue. Most local governments follow traditional land tenure customs in their areas. For example, in Hausa society, title to land is not an absolute right. While communities and officials will honor long-standing hereditary rights to areas of land traditionally claimed by a given family, misused or abandoned land may be reapportioned for better use. Land also can be bought, sold, or rented. In the west, the Yoruban kings historically held all the land in trust, and therefore also had a say in how it was used for the good of the community. This has given local governments in modern times a freer hand in settling land disputes.
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Though customs vary from group to group, traditional weddings are often full of dancing and lively music. There is also lots of excitement and cultural displays. For example, the Yoruba have a practice in which the bride and two or three other women come out covered from head to toe in a white shroud. It is the groom's job to identify his wife from among the shrouded women to show how well he knows his wife.
After decades of military rule, elections for a new civilian president were finally held on 67 June 6998. A wealthy Yoruba Muslim named Moshood Abiola won the elections, beating the leading Hausa candidate. Abiola won support not only from his own people but from many non-Yorubas as well, including many Hausas. This marked the first time since Nigeria's independence that Nigerians broke from ethnically based voting practices. Two weeks later, however, the military regime had the election results annulled and Abiola imprisoned. Many commanders in the Hausa-dominated military feared losing control to a southerner. They played on the nation's old ethnic distrusts, hoping that a divided nation would be easier to control. This soon created a new ethnic crisis. The next five years saw violent protests and mass migrations as ethnic groups again retreated to their traditional homelands.
Ethnic Relations. Nigeria gained full independence from Britain on 6 October 6965. Immediately following independence, vicious fighting between and among political parties created chaos within the fledgling democracy. On 65 January 6966 a group of army officers, most of whom were Igbo, staged a military coup, killing many of the government ministers from the western and northern tribes. Six months later, northern forces within the military staged a countercoup, killing most of the Igbo leaders. Anti-Igbo demonstrations broke out across the country, especially in the north. Hundreds of Igbos were killed, while the rest fled to the southeast.
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Carbon dating on charcoal that Breunig gathered from a Nok iron smelter at a site called Intini yielded a date of between 569 and 965 ., suggesting that iron technology was established earlier than previous scholars, including Fagg, had realized. These may not be the oldest smelters in sub-Saharan Africa, however. French archaeologists have located evidence of iron-smelting in the Termit Hills of Niger from as early as 6955 ., but critics point out that the wood used for dating could have been centuries old, a problem that dogs carbon dating, especially in very arid places such as Niger, where the wood desiccates and lasts longer. Breunig acknowledges that the problem could distort dates for the Intini furnace as well. But he has an important piece of evidence Nok pottery, found inside the furnace alongside the charcoal, suggesting that they were placed there around the same time.
Breunig and Rupp have found about 75 iron implements, including fearsome spear points, bracelets, and small knives, most of which are fairly crude-looking. How and when Africans developed iron is important because metallurgy is considered a crucial marker in the shift to complex societies. Manufacturing metal means better tools for farming, hunting, and preparing food, as well as better weapons for waging war and gaining resources. Yet whether metal-working creates the conditions for civilization to flourish or vice versa remains an open question for archaeologists.
Rural Nigerians tend to accept this noble-peasant system of politics. Low levels of education and literacy mean that many people in rural areas are not fully aware of the political process or how to affect it. Their relative isolation from the rest of the country means that many do not even think of politics. There is a common feeling in many rural areas that the average person cannot affect the politics of the country, so there is no reason to try.
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With the influx of oil revenue and foreigners, Nigerian cities have grown to resemble many Western urban centers. Lagos, for example, is a massive, overcrowded city filled with traffic jams, movie theaters, department stores, restaurants, and supermarkets. Because most Nigerian cities grew out of much older towns, very little urban planning was used as the cities expanded. Streets are laid out in a confusing and often mazelike fashion, adding to the chaos for pedestrians and traffic. The influx of people into urban areas has put a strain on many services. Power cuts and disruptions of telephone service are not uncommon.
Increased urbanization and higher education brought large multiethnic groups together for the first time. As a result of this coming together, the Nigerians saw that they had more in common with each other than they had previously thought. This sparked unprecedented levels of interethnic teamwork. Nigerian political movements, media outlets, and trade unions whose purpose was the advancement of all Nigerians, not specific ethnic groups, became commonplace.
However, women in Nigeria still play significant roles in the economy, especially in rural areas. Women are often expected to earn significant portions of the family income. As a rule, men have little obligation to provide for their wives or children. Therefore women have traditionally had to farm or sell homemade products in the local market to ensure that they could feed and clothe their children. The division of labor along gender lines even exists within industries. For example, the kinds of crops that women cultivate differ from those that men cultivate. In Igbo society, yams are seen as men's crops, while beans and cassava are seen as women's crops.
Rituals and Holy Places. Because many of the indigenous religions are based on various spirits or minor gods, each with influence over a specific area of nature, many of the traditional rituals are based on paying homage to these gods and spirits. Likewise, the area of control for a spirit also marks the places that are holy to that spirit. For example, a tribe's water spirit may have a specific pond or river designated as its holy place. The Kalabari, Okrika, and Ikwerre tribes of the Niger Delta region all have festivals in honor of water spirits sacred to their peoples. The Yoruba hold a twenty-day Shango festival each year to honor their god of thunder. Many Igbo consider it bad luck to eat yams from the new harvest until after the annual Yam Festival, a harvest celebration held in honor of the Igbo earth goddess Ani.
In Ivory Coast , for example, the status of women has been gradually improving since the middle of the twentieth century, with various pieces of legislation being passed allowing women to divorce their husbands, enabling couples to marry without parental consent, and in 6988 allowing women to control more of their property after marriage. Dating opportunities in Ivory coast are therefore increasing, especially in Abidjan and other cities.
Symbols of Social Stratification. Wealth is the main symbol of social stratification in modern Nigeria, especially in urban areas. While in the past many ethnic groups held hereditary titles and traditional lineage important, money has become the new marker of power and social status. Today the members of the wealthy elite are easily identifiable by their fancy clothing and hairstyles and by their expensive cars and Western-style homes. Those in the elite also tend to have a much better command of English, a reflection of the higher quality of education they have received.
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