Our new husbands are here

Traore’s mother had been alive back then, and she told her daughter about the first clay that the French arrived in Somangoi. According to Traore, her mother and the other women of the village had gathered to wave leafy branches and greet the colonizers. Traore clapped her hands together and recited the verses that had been sung to the French over a century before: “Our new husbands are here, everybody should leave their old husbands, our new husbands are here!”‘

From Our New Husbands Are Here, by U of Chicago historian Emily Osborn.

The story behind the title: When men made states, they also made households. This might mean taking the vanquished’s wives. Somangoi wives seemingly made the transition easier than some.

The subtitle is “Households, Gender, and Politics in a West African State from the Slave Trade to Colonial Rule.” Explores why women figure prominently in precolonial politics but vanish from the narrative with colonization.


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