Ada (the first daughter of a family) in Igbo culture holds a lot of dignity, respect and some spiritual undertones from creation. They are highly regarded and as well as cherished by men and the gods of the land.
FOUR HIDDEN SECRETS ABOUT IGBO FIRST DAUGHTER (ADA)
1) A Married Ada/First Daughter cannot bow/kneel to greet her father or any body in her home community/maternal village.
2) Apart from gods and kings in igboland. igbo men can only bow/prostrate before their umuada when they visit their villages.
3) Umuada are the only people that can overturn any judgement or has the final say in their home town/maternal home
4) umuada are seen/treated as queens in their home town/village/maternal home
Many roles of a first daughter (Ada) in Igbo land. One of the roles of an Ada which I found rather interesting is this:
When a man dies without a male child, the Ada (The first daughter) does not get married. She stays back and selects lovers with whom she cohabits to beget children on behalf of her dead father. The children thus raised will take over her fathers property but most importantly, the children will continue the fathers name. This is how important a male child is in Igbo culture. Without a male child, a mans last name will become extinct as all the female children will get married and bear their husbands last name.
This used to happen decades ago..although i will not be surprised if this still happens in some rural parts of Igbo land..
Umuada represent one of the veritable tools in the government of traditional Igbo setting. Before the advent of the warrant chiefs, county council or Igwe as the head of a community, Umuada and Nze na Ozo society were the only government of the time. Therefore, Umuada (daughters of the land) has been as old as Ndi Igbo.
Before delving into the profile of the Umuada in Igbo land and its activities it may be worthwhile for us to properly understand the concept of “Umuada” in Igbo land. African culture is mostly male dominated, as is the culture of many native nations worldwide.
However, the paternalistic propensity of African culture, especially the Igbo culture, does not indicate subjugation of women. On the contrary, women in traditional Igbo society are a force in political, legal, and social issues. Long before the colonists arrived in Africa, and even during and after colonialism, women have been a powerful part of the Igbo society. Women have many forums designed to present and protect their interests. The most important of these female forums is Umuada. Umuada is a compound, collective noun formed from “ụmụ” and “ada. “ Ada means “daughter”, ụmụ is a generic plural prefix that confers the sense of many.
Most naturally, every Igbo woman is “ada” (a daughter) of a certain community and is recognized as such for all the days of her life. Although it is used often in referring to the first daughter of a family (“adaobi”), ada generally means a female child.
Viewed with a modern lens, ada is the origin of the politically correct term “Ms”… a non-distinguishing title for women and probably the English equivalent of “Ada.”Thus, “Umuada” connotes many daughters in a social group. Umuada means native daughters, the daughters of a common male ancestor or “daughters of the soil.” Also called Ụmụọkpụ (in parts of Anambra State) or Ndịmgbọtọ (in parts of Imo State), Umuada is a collection of all daughters of a particular clan, village, town, or state… whether old, young, single, married, separated, or divorced. It is the inalienable right of every daughter of a particular place, without exception whatsoever, to belong to Otu Umuada, the society of native daughters. As a collective, Otu Umuada is a powerful sociopolitical setup in Igbo culture, a functional forum for females.
The membership of this forum is the absolute right of all women born of the same male lineage. Even if and when a woman marries outside the village or town setting, she remains ada of her father’s community. In other words,membership of the group is conferred patrilineally; that is, from the father’s side of the family. So, strictly speaking, any woman who does not belong to the group is either an outsider or she has been ostracized by her community for some abominable acts. If a member defies the family head or a leadership crisis arises, the married daughters of the family or village are invited to resolve the dispute or to force compliance with the decision.
The Umuada, or married daughters, play an important part in Igbo dispute resolution. They come from the family, kindred or village which calls upon them, but are living elsewhere with their husbands. They are highly respected, especially in comparison with their unmarried counterparts and with women who have married into the family or village (who are treated as strangers). It is common for successful marriages to attract others from the same village. The married women from a particular village or kindred preserve their kinship ties by forming Umuada groups in their marital villages.