The period between the 9th and the 19th centuries was a dark period in the history of West African Women. The effect of this dark period continues today, in part, in the form of persistent gender inequalities.
Prior to this period, ancient West African women were empowered to the point that they effectively organised their own societies in ways that helped complement their interaction with men. In those instances, matriarchal inheritance systems ruled. The phenomenon of females ruling societies was based on the basic acknowledgement that all men and women, great or humble, emerged into this world from the womb of a woman.
However, these matrilineal cultures were gradually destroyed by the arrival of, first, Islam, then the North Atlantic chattel slave trade, colonisation and, finally, Christianity. Slave trading was taking place across the world, but chattel slavery was first introduced in West Africa by a number of Western European countries.
Ancient West African Women is a short, crisp book which systematically explains how women in ancient West African tribes migrated from the Nile Valley in Egypt westwards to an area south of the Sahara, which we now know as West Africa. The book also polemically explores the lasting impact of chattel slave trading, colonization, Christianization and Islamization on the standing of West African women.