Bakor Women in Pottery Production in Colonial Southeastern Nigeria

Abstract

Author(s): Simon E. MAJUK, Patience O. ERIM AND Rev. Joseph O. AJOR

This paper x-rays the performance of Bakor traditional pottery industry in colonial Southeastern Nigeria. It reveals that, contrary to popular textbook generalizations, the industry demonstrated considerable resilience and not only survived, but actually expanded in spite of or even because of colonial presence. The industry survived the harsh colonial economic environment as a result of a number of factors. One of such factors was that clay, the essential raw material, did not make the list of export items to Europe. This meant that producers were not starved of raw materials. Another factor was that there were no perfect imported substitutes for clay pots. For utilitarian and cultural reasons people preferred clay pots to imported varieties. Also significant was the fact that, as elsewhere in Nigeria, the pottery industry was the exclusive preserve of the women folk who were exempted from direct taxation. This meant that, unlike their male counterparts, they were not forced to abandon traditional economic pursuits in search of wage labour or production for export in order to earn the needed cash with which to pat tax. The paper also shows that colonialism actually expanded the market for Bakor pot manufacturers by breaking down traditional trade barriers along the Cross River. In this way their wares found their way into markets as far South as Itu and Calabar. The paper concludes by

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