with a higher socioeconomic status is respected and gratefully accepted, this
is true, because it is assumed to be the responsibility of the more affluent to
provide for the less well-off in Hausa society. Ultimately, however, a mother
is responsible for the behavior of her own children.
In an interview with one of the Emir's wives ( 2 May 1983), she
explained that somewhat less is spent to provide the dowry for foster daughters than for Emir's daughters; it is still, however, a significant amount of
money, as is made clear in her itemization of costs in the text here.
Such mutual assistance schemes are common among women and are
mentioned in work by Saunders ( 1979) and Simmons ( 1975, 1976).
A case also can be made for the power wielded by royal wives as they
influenced the decisions of emirs and other powerful men throughout recent
history. For a discussion of this, see
Mack 1988, particularly 65-66.
"Female agency . . . [is] not the recounting of great deeds performed
by women, but the exposure of the often silent and hidden operations of
gender, which are nonetheless present and defining forces of politics and
political life" (
Joan Wallach Scott, "Women's History and the Rewriting of
History," in The Impact of Feminist Research in the Academy, ed.
, 44-45. [ Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 19871).
Occasionally the royal guards will stroll through the open courtyard
area of the harem, chatting with the women there.
"[In male-centered structures of hierarchy and segregation] there is
a need to view women (and other subdominant segments) not merely as
passive participants, but as vital protagonists interacting with the structures of their domination, necessarily exercising some degree of autonomy,
not only in defining and interpreting but in redefining and reinterpreting
how the dominant structures define and interpret them" (
Kaveh Safa- Isfahani
, "Female Centered World Views in Iranian Culture: Symbolic Representations of Sexuality in Dramatic Games," Signs: Journal of Women in
Culture and Society, [ 1980] vol. 6, 1: 34).
Abraham, R. C. 1962. A Dictionary of the Hausa Language. London: University of London Press.
Abu-Lughod, Lila. 1985. "A Community of Secrets: The Separate World of
Bedouin Women". Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 10 (4): 637-657.
Boyd, Jean. 1989. The Caliph's Sister. London: Frank Cass Press.
Coles, Catherine M., and
Beverly B. Mack. 1991. Women in Twentieth Century Hausa Society. In Hausa Women in the Twentieth Century, ed.
Cather ine M. Coles
Beverly B. Mack, 3-26. Madison: University of Wisconsin
The Concise Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. 1971. London: Oxford