Dichotomy and Difference: A Social History of Army Wives in Nigerian Cantonments, 1905-1985


  • Justus Adim Nzemeka




This article examines the nature of the dichotomy and difference between officers’ and non-commissioned officers’ wives in Nigerian Cantonments. It identifies that the interactions between the two groups since the colonial period have long been overlooked in intellectual discourse and knowledge production due to culture and sex stereotypes. The paper argues that the relationship between officers and non-commissioned officers’ wives in both colonial and post-colonial periods were marked by rank and social inequality. In this piece, we draw on primary and secondary sources of data, oral interviews, official documents, internet materials, and participant-observation to substantiate its claim, this paper reveals that the case of army officers’ wives and non-commissioned officers’ wives in Nigeria epitomizes the theory of social stratification in a male-dominated profession. Contrary to the opinion that it is only men that marginalise women, this paper demonstrates that women also marginalise fellow women on account of rank and social construct. It also affirms that colonial encounters reinvented inequality and dichotomy in gender relations and military life. The study concludes that rank is important but social inclusion will foster cooperation and collaboration in a plural society.