There’s a song by a South African artiste that says “No matter where you go, remember the road that will lead you home…” These words ring true for a group of women in the eastern part of Nigeria, locally referred to as igbo women. For these women, the month of August every year witnesses a massive homecoming from different towns and cities across the world to their matrimonial rural hometowns, where they unite with their fellow sisters for what is now popularly known as the “August Meeting.”
Prior to 1965, residents in the rural communities gathered once a month for townhall meetings but with civilization and socio-cultural needs, the women who felt left out during meetings (especially as the men did all the talking and decision making), decided to start up something that will cater to the needs of women in the community. This has over the years become a phenomenon among the Igbos of the Southeastern Nigeria and has assumed permanence. Infact, it is a big deal.
Through the August meeting, these women uniting with rural women organize themselves for the purpose of raising funds for development projects. which could be either their initiative or those of their male counterparts (their husbands). The activities of these women over the years have really given meaning to life, especially for the rural dwellers for which those projects are usually cited.
Usually, this meeting is held for four days. The first three days are used to discuss issues and how to make progress and being united, while day four is set out for thanks-giving service in different churches in appreciation of God’s guidance. The meeting is seen and used as an avenue for discussing social problems being encountered in the society. The August meeting has become a very veritable means of socio-economic development which attracts a lot of crowd as it is held in August when farming activities are less, giving opportunity for all to attend the meeting. It is also a period of unification in which all the women married in a community both home and abroad are united under one umbrella for the development of their community. The idea is generally welcomed and the lists of all the women in attendance are complied.
It is usually at this August meeting that the election of leaders (president and executives) are done.
The August meeting is usually seen as some as a time for competition as some of them will go to any length in other to be the most expensive lady in the meeting, with either the best traditional wear, many gifts for those back at home, jewelleries or cars. It has been seen that some women plunge themselves into debt just to impress other women. Although this happens, to these women, it is a period of brainstorming on how to make their communities better.
This year due to the coronavirus pandemic, lockdown and high cost of living August meetings will not hold but you can be sure that these women bound by culture are gearing for subsequent meetings where they can share and enjoy the bond of sisterhood.
Have you been a part of an August meeting? Please share with us what fascinates you about the gathering in the comment section.