Udamalore: celebrating ancient and contemporary stories of female agency in African culture.
Throughout certain parts of Nigerian and African countries exist certain commonalities in warfare, authority, and symbolism.
The eben and ada were swords and symbols used in the ancient southern and southwestern kingdoms such as Benin and Owo. Sometimes these swords had ceremonial counterparts: lushly-beaded, jewel-encrusted pieces, known as the udamalore. The decorative trophy weapon.
Mostly made from precious metals or high-fashion materials such as wood or leather, the udamalore, alongside the èwu, its decorative sheath, were considered too delicate to use for work, and mainly existed as physical displays of the owner’s wealth.
Historically, in many African societies, women have been put in this same box, thought to exist in a decorative “form-over-function” capacity – especially when compared mainly in the context of the men around them.
Yet the truth is, women have fought + won in front of, alongside, and supporting men.
In the right hands – in empowered hands – any tool can become a weapon. Women have learnt to use a variety of tools to win. Softness has its own strength.
Udamalore is not only just a decorative artefact. It is a symbol of authority, if only one understands the best way to wield it.
This presentation of the udamalore note that a woman’s value incorporates all the parts of her truth.
We celebrate ourselves, in our myriad forms.
On September 10th, Efua Oyofo will be having the first edition of udamalore – a cultural study examining stories of womanhood, and feminine agency from ancient to contemporary times.
If you’re interested in attending, please scan the QR code which will take you to the RSVP link. For peeps who aren’t big on QR codes, click here.