By Mazi Nnamdi Nwigwe
The month of August is here with us again; and with it we enter the season of frenetic activities by the women all over Igboland. The August Meeting has become a major entry in the cultural calendar of Nd’Igbo. It is so popular and avidly awaited every year, especially by the womenfolk who begin to plan and save for the next celebration as soon as the current one is over.
The August Meeting is essentially the period of the year when married women in Igboland gather to discuss the affairs of the various communities where they are married.
It is a home-coming event which attracts women living outside their matrimonial homes to join their colleagues based at home.
For the greater part of a week women in their various communities organize different kinds of social events that include marching, drama, dancing and innovative fund-raising gimmicks usually targeted at the menfolk.
Well crafted invitation letters are sent to the men of the community several weeks ahead of the month of August asking them to graciously attend their presentations and appreciate them.
Funds gathered are then utilized for one relevant developmental project or the other. Indeed the leadership of the women decides on a project for the next year and sensitize their followers accordingly.
The seed fund for an agreed project is raised by the women themselves through levies. Those who live and carry out their businesses at home are usually levied an amount half of that to be paid by women who live in the cities and townships. They are called “abroadians” and include those actually living overseas. The local parlance for this group of compatriots is ‘those in the diaspora.’
Projects that some communities embark upon are naturally those relevant to the womenfolk such as health centres, lock-up shops, markets and skills acquisition facilities.
The August Meeting has been so structured to serve as a social leveller. Participants are compelled to wear uniform wrappers. Their blouses are also of uniform colour.
With the consequential elimination of sartorial flamboyance and competition, the women now concentrate on their project and usually carry it out successfully.
It wasn’t so in the distant past when women made August Meetings atavistic fashion shows in which women of humbler means suffered from debilitating inferiority complexes. Even the quest to be the leader of the pack was so viciously pursued that some paid with their lives in the process.
Very little was heard about development projects in those days as the city-based business tycoons merely relished the singular opportunity to flaunt their plumages and accessories before the lesser folks in the country-side.
There were rampant cases of infidelity as some weak Eves deployed their feminine weapons to rake-in sufficient resources to measure up at the next August Meeting.
Thank God all is now history. Sanity soon returned to the commendable annual pilgrimage of the women of Igboland.
Our prayer is that the achieving womenfolk should remain focused and be solidly supported by all and sundry for the continued upliftment of our communities.