O level Notes : FRS - Gender roles of men in Indigenous religion

In African societies, men and women have specific roles defined by the society and in accordance with Indigenous religion.

Gender roles of men in Indigenous religion


(a) Decision makers

Men are decision makers; it is their sole responsibility to make all decisions for the good of the family.

(b) Providers

Men are to love and take good care of their wives. It is their duty to provide food, shelter and clothing to his family. Women are dependent on males.

(c) Head of the family

As the head of the family, a father has a say in everything that happens at his home. He solves problems that arise in the family. He has full control of his homestead.


(d) Ritual specialists


As religious practitioners they conduct  ceremonies and rituals. Priesthood is a highly  respected office in African societies. Priests give advice and perform judicial and political functions in addition to caring for the temples and shrines to which they are attached. They also intermediate between people and the spirit world.


(e) Traditional doctors


With their expertise as traditional doctors, they symbolise  the hopes of their society such as good health, protection and security from evil forces. They cure disease which cannot be cured in the modern hospitals.


(f) Mediums and diviners


As mediums and diviners, they relay messages from the other worldandalsorevealthe secrets of the past, present and the future when they are possessed by their deities. People consult them on private matters and when having a national crisis.

  • They consult the ancestral spirits for protection of the family and society.
  • Indigenous religion believes in life after death and deceased men become ancestors who will protect and guide the living. As ancestors they intermediate between the people and the Supreme Being. They fight evil spirits and drive them away from their family descendants where they once belonged.
  • Most leadership positions  such as chieftainship  and headmen  are for men.  They have a duty to protect morals and values in Indigenous  religion. Through  prohibitions  on sacred places they do not only conserve the environment but they safeguard the sacred places preserving African culture.
  • It is men who pay lobola to bring spiritual union between families of the bride and the groom.