Against Her Kind: The Phenomenom of Women Against Women in Ovia Cult Worship

Anthonia Makwemoisa Yakubu


This paper addresses the incidence of ‘Women against Women’ in Nigerian folklore. Much has been written on Nigerian folklore, but mainly from within the mortal axis, as reflected in many folktales that cut across different communities in Nigeria. However, it has been observed that this gender phenomenon extends to the supernatural realm, where gods and goddesses, especially the latter, seem to prefer members of the opposite sex as the objects of their attention and goodwill. This paper focuses on Benin mythology, with particular emphasis on the cult and festivals of the Bini goddess, Ovia.  Of the origin stories of most of the gods and goddesses in Bini mythology, the Ovia cult is unique, as it provides a gender reason why membership is restricted to men. Adopting a psychoanalytical and feminist approach, the paper concludes that Ovia’s deliberate exclusion of women re-echoes the negativity ascribed to women. 

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