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The socio- economic life of Uromi women obviously differed in some respect to other ethnic groups in Nigeria. A woman’s position varies according to the (1) kinship structure of the group and (2) role of women within the economic structure of the society, common factors among women of different ethnic groups, however included the domestically orientated jobs and the range or economic activities that the society reserved for women.

Economically speaking the people of Uromi maintains an agrarian economy where everybody effectively engaged in Agricultural practices, although most of them are simple farmers. The main crops are food crops, such as yams, corn, cocoyam’s, cassava, rice, plantain and fruits. The larger part of Esan – land is practically a forest region with the agricultural practice as main stay of the economy, which necessitated the emergence of other agro-allied industries. Moreover, the fertility of the soil is very high.

Women held a basically complementary rather than subordinate position to men in indigenous colonial society in Uromi, which based power on seniority rather than gender.

However, despite the lack of emphasis placed on gender by Nigeria indigenous societies, the lifestyle of the legislation concerning women, therefore attempted to control them, their sexuality and fertility further dxining their subordination. The beginning of colonial rule brought to Africa the European notion that women belonged in the home, nurturing their family. At the same time the societies expected women to work-work which the society considered complementary to that done by men.

The state and the beginning of colonial rule began to change the roles of women by means of legislation restricting women and focusing of colonial economy on men.

Aims and Objectives

The main objectives of this study is to examine colonial rule and the socio-economic life of women in Uromi other specific objectives include:

-      to critically examine the historical background of Esan as well as the political, social and economic institutions.

-      To investigate colonial rule and social economic life of Uromi women.

Scope of Work

The scope of this work is focus on a major group in Edo state are of Nigeria. It is restricted to an area called Uromi; in Esan land particularly women in Uromi during colonial period.


In the course of research for this work relevant data and information here carried out from the main sources. These were primary and secondary sources.

1.     Primary Sources: This section will present the study techniques that will be used for the study. It will include the source of materials gathered which will be materials of those in who had written about the economic, social institution in Esan as well as oral interviews.

2.     Secondary Sources: Secondary sources, consulted in the university library. Edo state library included text books, journals and newspaper. These sources helped to provide data for a historical analysis of economic development in uromi in the colonial period.


Research interest on colonial rule and socio – economic life of Uromi has been a major issue among the historians of the Uromi community. The first step is studying and making research on the to effectively, is to reach a common understanding of the definition of the phenomenon.

Colonial rule is the area of the white men’s invasion of the Africa’s continent. This is when the colonial masters were ruling Nigeria before the country gained independence. The white men imposed their culture , that is by making us to give away our values, norms, commerce, freedom to embrace their culture. This wule was foreign to us and this also affected the socio – economic life of the Esan women in the Uromi community.

Socio – economy can be broken into two namely social and economy. Social means relationship between people and their responses.

Economy on the other hand is the state of making money from skills, trade, knowledge and this will in turn affect the community by increasing wealth of the place. Before the colonial times, Uromi  women were majorly peasant famer’s, traders and some had homemade skills like leaning of baskets, mats, etc. some were also dull time house wives with perfect skill of taking care of children and even their husbands. But all these changed with the emergence of the colonial rule in Uromi community. This also affected the so called relationship among Esan women which used to be informal, communal and passionate. Instead formal relationship, materialistic and selfish interaction replaced the former.

C. G Okojie in his book titled Esan Native Laws and Customs with Ethnographic Studies of Esan people explains about common factors among women ethnic groups in Esan land, however included the domestically oriented jobs and range of economic activites that the society reserved for women. It also explains the association of women in colonial times and how they engaged in Agriculture and in household’s jobs as wives and mother.

          Jacob Eghareuba in his book titled A Short history of Benin discusses the years of imperial ventures in Great Benin when the field imperial kings where on the expansion stage covered the 166 years of 1440 – 16606AD, from the coronation of Eware to the death of Egengbuda. He explained how Benin were defeated during colonial times and how it affected other neighboring villages like the Esan community.

J. I Osagie in his Article titled “Women in Agriculture in Esan in pre-colonial period” examines agriculture as an aspect of colonial economy in Esan in the period of colonial rule. He undertake empirical analysis of colonial polices to Esan as they related to cash crops as regards to this, women were very supportive in farming activities.

Omese P. S. in his book titled Socio – Cultural Relations in Pre-Colonial Esan History examines the socio – cultural relations as well as the economic life of the Esan people. He explains how the people of Esan maintains an agrarian economy, and their main carops were mostly food crops such as yams, corn, cocoyam, cassava e.t.c. He also describe the uarions cultural groups in Esan land.

From the above, it is obvious that none of this existing interaction treats the impact of colonial rule on Uromi women. This gap in our knowledge of Uromi women is what this project intends to bridge.


Chapter One: Introduction

          This chapter contains the introduction of the project, Colonial Rule and Socio-Economic life of Uromi women in Esanland, their Political Institution, Social and Economic Institution. These Institutions and their duration in time lend credence to the unique abilities of the Uromi women to maintain their own Institutions for the maintenance of the Society.

Chapter Two: Historical Background of Uromi.

          This chapter provides a brief historical background of Uromi people. It shows that the Uromi people have their own history, political Institutions, serial activities and Economic activities. The aspect of Economy includes Agriculture, Industry and trade. Even before the coming of the Europeans they were well established in their economic system.

Chapter Three: Conquest and Colonial Rule in Uromi.

          This chapter examines the conquest and imposition of Colonial rule on the people of Uromi. It shows the various stages of the resistance mouted by the people of Uromi against British  expedition forces. After the subjugation, the Colonial authorities set up various forms of Administrative institutions such as native authorities and native courts.

Chapter Four: Colonial Rule and Social Life of Uromi women.

          The carious groups in Esan land maintained virtually the same social system in Colonial period. Uromi women engaged in a number of economic activities apart from being subsidiaries to their husbands. The Social Institution of Uromi women include Religion, Festivals and marriage.

Chapter Five: Colonial Rule and Economic Life of Uromi Women.

          This chapter reviews the aspect of economy in Uromi. In Colonial period, economically spealang the people of Uromi maintains an agricultural practices. Although farm work was mostly for men but women supported their husbands in some way and the main crops are food crops such as yams, Corn, Cocoyam, Cassava, Rice, Plantain and Fruits.

Chapter six: Conclusion.

          This chapter concludes this project, the impact of Colonial rule on the economic activities of Uromi women have been examined against the background of the role and functions of women in Uromi Society before Colonial conquest and the period during Colonial rule.


1.     Interview with Mr. J. Esene, 65 years old, Educationist, Benin City: 10 Jan, 2014.

2.     C. G. Okojie, Esan Native Laws and Customs with Ethnographic Studies of Esan People, Benin City: Illufeju press, 1994, P. 2.

3.     Jacob Eghareuba, A Short History of Benin, Benin City: Fortune and Temperance publishing 2005, P. 30

4.     J. I. Osagie “Women in Agriculture in Esan in Pre – colonial period”, Kiabara: Journal of Humanities, vol 7, vol, 2001, PP 47 – 58.

5.     P. S. Omese, Socio – cultural Relations in Pre – colonial Esan History, Benin City: Omo – Uneesan Publishers 1997. P.4.

6.     Esan Native Laws, P. 3.

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