Has the August meeting passed its relevance?

August Meeting Exposed – History, Decline, Rejection, Competition

by NwanyiAbia

“Ndi Nne mama, Isokwa!” is more than a slogan, it is an identity. 

 The white man through colonialism expanded urbanization and rural-urban migration. The Igbos’ communal living was swiftly replaced with disintegration that saw key family members moving to cities like Lagos, Onitsha, Aba, Owerri, Umuahia in search of the white man’s greener pastures. 

Ndi-umuada (Daughters born in a community and married outside) and “Ndi otu alutaradi” (Women married into a community) are the most powerful decision-makers in the women wing of communities in Igbo land. Precolonial Igboland saw these women take up powerful positions determining who got what and how. Aba women riot is an instance of the strength of pre-colonial the Igbo woman. 

With rural-urban migrations, this institution suffered. Its members were dispersed in different parts of the world, this gave the members of “Otu-alutaradi” a reason to form associations in their town of residence. Eg. Nnewi Women Association, Lagos. This gave them a sense of belonging, networking, decision-making influence among others. 

To further strengthen their bond, around the year 1940, the need for delegates to be sent from each of the associations to a central location at the village became glaring. The month of August was chosen.


Why August? 

August is a month of rest, teachers and civil servants would be on holiday, children would be on school break and most importantly the traditional new yam festival of the Igbos is observed this month. Perfect sync. This gave rise to the Annual August meeting where Igbo women convene at their matrimonial communities to discuss issues affecting them such as 

= Husband oppression 

= Female genital mutilation

= Promiscuous husbands

= Fight against widows maltreatment like drinking water used to wash a corpse to prove innocence

= Town developmental projects (Most community development projects like halls, schools, church buildings are attributed to the proceeds of August meetings. These women were a force). Among others. 


Igbo women’s August meeting became a massive homecoming whereby Igbo women in the diaspora and the cities travelled back to their matrimonial villages to meet with their local counterparts to discuss matters pertaining to the community’s development, Conflict Management, human development, and other socio-economic and cultural initiatives.

The meetings are usually a three-day to one-week ritual depending on the community, and it is divided into three parts, the first is held at the village level, the second within the community, while the third is held in churches with thanksgivings to mark the end of the meeting.

This annual summit is hierarchically structured and organized on both rural and urban fronts. The summit commences at the ward level. This is where brainstorming sessions on the year’s project originate. As the Catholics are in their own meeting, so are the Anglicans. Ideas generated at the ward level are brought to the church where they are reviewed and harmonized.


On the last day of the meeting, Protestants and Catholics usually come together to harness their various proposals for the common good of the community. They will choose one central project that will benefit all, irrespective of individual religious beliefs.

Would Igbo daughters ever get parity in the matter of inheritance

It is important to point out that some pentecostal churches frown at this and prohibit their members from attending, Assemblies of God, Watchman Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement are handy examples. 


While all these discussions are going on, the men look in from time to time to see what goes on and offer words of encouragement when necessary. 

Several communities plan some of their annual activities to fall within the meeting period in order to make the best use of the presence of a large number of their daughters and daughters-in-law from “abroad”. Communities usually benefit in one way or another from the various initiatives the “abroad” women’s groups bring home from their different places of abode. Abroad here refers to any abode outside of the community. 

The August meeting has evolved to become one of the most popular events in Igboland but its growth was not without thorns. At first, the ingrained competitive nature of humans nearly crushed the existence of the movement. Women found it an avenue to show off expensive jewelries, dresses, cars, assets, to show that they have “arrived” and “belong”.

Women would put undue pressure on their husbands to buy them outrageously expensive items just to show off. This brought a lot of tensions in homes and may have added fuel to the pyres that burned a lot of homes and tore marriages apart. 

With all these ugly reports, a fine percentage of women concluded that August Meetings did not exactly matter in the grand scheme of things in their lives and they would gladly skip attending. This dwindled the number of attendees each year.


As the years wore on, more and more women who couldn’t keep up the competition stopped going home for August Meeting. 

To remedy this, a preselected wrapper and clothing of minimalist cost were chosen as a uniform for everyone to wear. It became a norm for all women attending the meeting, regardless of status, to follow the dress code, which comprises a white blouse from “China” fabric and a uniform Ankara wrapper.

This was supposed to reduce the competition and may have achieved its goal. But this didn’t last long.

The donations became another tool of oppression. When the women decide on a project to pursue, they would ask for donations, to “launch” the project. The rich and affluent will donate large sums while others will be relegated to onlookers.


Relevance or acceptance of ideas was determined by the weight of donation, this trickled down to form cliques of among rich women. 

With economic decline on the rise, more women resolved that the money used for the August Meeting was wasteful and they would rather invest it in other ventures. 

August meeting is still a powerful outing in the Igbo society but it is no longer in its prime. 


Frequently asked questions surrounding the August meeting include: 

Has the August Meeting lost its value and relevance? Is there a way to retrace and make the assembly really work for the people? Is there a chance the generation of women married from 2010 till date would want to be part of?


You can connect with us on Linkedin  

Post Disclaimer

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author and forum participants on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Anaedo Online or official policies of the Anaedo Online.

You may also like