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Igbo Community Where Women Marry Women



Anioma, a Delta-Igbo community in Nigeria prides in her age-long culture that crowns the Omu Anioma- a traditional title to a woman, the culture permits an Omu to marry a woman or as many women of her choice. The twist here is that her wife (she is the man in the marriage) is allowed to marry or consort a man of her choice and they both procreate and bear children for the Omu. Most people ask, does the Omu have sexual intercourse?

The omu of anioma

History says the tradition of crowning an Omu is from Benin, Igara. Omu means palm front, which connotes fertility hence the stool of the Omu was constituted. Omu stands as Eze Nwanyi, female king in charge of women, female youths, markets, ancestral shrines, businesses. Delta communities that practice the omu system include Abala, Utchi, Aniocha, Oshimili, Nsukwa clan, Igodo, Ukwuani, Ubulu-Uku among others.

Igbodo communities differ in their approach as they appoint a council of Omu made up of several Omu and a head.

More importantly, she is the spiritual custodian, the one who advises the male traditional ruler and the town spiritually. That is why they are not allowed to get married so she can maintain a state of chastity. If she is married, she is to leave her matrimonial home. An Omu is also allowed to visit her ex-husband for a given number of hours. However, this remains a grey area as the Omu has refused to discuss their sexual affairs either for or against. Another common question is- How is an Omu selected?

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On the day of coronation after all due diligence has been done, the Omu is presented with her staff of office in the form of a knotted broom, an of, and a circular fan. The broom is a feminine marker but the ofo and the fan are symbols of her new male status and authority. It is widely believed that all Omus lose their femininity to masculinity on this day. They hereby become leaders of their households and the only difference between them and men is the absence of genitals.

In a community where there is an Omu, there is also a male traditional ruler who is recognized as the leader supreme, the Omu is subject to him. When an Omu is crowned, she leaves her matrimonial home, if married and moves to the palace to reign. At the point of coronation, as she is made a man and bestowed male rights; she can break the kolanut, she becomes a man in a woman.

The selection of an Omu is patterned in a way that they are different from male chiefs. There is no contest. You don’t aspire to it. God is said to reveal who will become the traditional ruler for women. In some communities, it is hereditary, while in others, it is rotational.

Four Stages Of Traditional Marriage Process In Igboland

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The names of prospective candidates are sent to oracles for confirmation and after the oracle approves, the chosen is informed through a symbolic process. She will either have an eagle feather stuck on her hair or be presented with the ugba-omu, a calabash and one of the official insignia of the office, or she is presented with a piece of nzu, a locally mined chalk. The eagle feather is an indication of an enhanced status, the ugba-omu is the traditional feminine symbol for female traders and signifies her responsibility to women, and the nzu, a ritual chalk, denotes purity and suggests her ritual role.

The recently crowned Omu is Omu Anioma- Obi Martha Dunkwu. Her reign has championed the abolishment of harmful burial rites, she Campaigns and advocates for women’s inheritance to properties. I know you think of Omu’s as traditional women sitting in a shrine disconnected from the rest of the world. Here is a shocker.

Omu Martha Dunkwu is learned, she holds a degree in comparative religion in the United States. She managed the image of the immediate past Oba of Benin, Oba Erediauwa and Benin Palace and she is media savvy.

An Omu has no tenure, another Omu can only be appointed when the current one passes.

No man or woman is allowed to raise their hand or beat an Omu, it is regarded as a slap on the town and the town will retaliate.