It is that time of the year when Igbo women, the world over, come out in their numbers from the city to travel down to their hometowns in order to unite with their rural counterparts for their Annual August Meeting in order to brainstorm on how to contribute to community development projects in their towns and how best to generate funds for the execution of such projects.
Aside from fundraising, they also discuss salient issues that affect the welfare of women with a view to finding out how best to seek solutions to them. Most times, public speakers are invited to speak on interesting topics that have to do with women, such as childbirth, birth control, cancer, unwanted pregnancies and maternal mortality.
The topics are also sometimes centred on housekeeping, tips on running the home, as well as how to be good wives and great mothers. It will not be wrong to say that these August Meetings are centred on finding ways to make them become better people, both on the home front and in their immediate society.
It will not be wrong also to say that these meetings are not just purpose driven, but also, a symbol of the strength of the womenfolk in both the traditional society and the Church where fundraising and execution of major projects are handled by them.
There was however a period when the August Meetings began to send wrong signals to society as women began to see them as avenues to show off their expensive clothing and jewellery, and even began to attach materialistic tendencies to their meetings. It became so bad that women who were not well-to-do found it difficult to attend the meetings because they could not afford to raise the kind of money needed to buy new shoes and new clothes for this annual assemblage. Some others went a-borrowing, just to meet up and look better than their counterparts.
It got to a point where some men stopped their wives from attending the meetings as a result of the pressure such women mounted on their husbands to provide money for them to spend on these meetings. This was why the Catholic Church, in her wisdom, decreed a dress code for every participant, regardless of position or status.
It is very important for women to make their voices heard like never before, this time. The current situation in the country needs to be addressed extensively at the 2019 August Meetings. The killings have become excessive and unnecessary; the economic situation has long taken a downhill plunge and Nigerians are groaning under its weight; the herdsmen scourge seems to be on the increase, as well as the spate of innocent people being kidnapped and killed by Fulani Herdsmen.
It is time for women to speak out in one voice and condemn these nefarious acts. They should be focused about this year’s meeting and not just stop at condemning the misdeeds of the present government, but also, proffer solutions to solving them. This is not a time to concentrate on clothes and jewellery. Nigeria is in distress and it would do society a lot of good if these women concentrated more on finding ways to better society than looking beautiful at this year’s meetings.