Differentiating Lolos From Female Igbo Chiefs
To say that women play an important role in Igbo society and culture would be an understatement.
This is even though the Igbo are very patriarchal. Yet one only needs to hear the Igbo proverbs like "Nwanyi bu nwa (Woman is child)" and "Nwanyi na eme (The woman is able)" to realise this.
To honour them the tribe has therefore installed a slew of ways in which they are celebrated and held in high esteem.
The first is the gender-neutral chieftaincy title.
It is bestowed upon anyone that has accomplished deeds so beneficial to the people that the ruler deems it necessary to award them with this prestigious accolade and thank them for their service to the community.
One famous female Igbo chief that comes to mind is Chief Mrs Odiukonamba (below) from Emeabiam, Owerri
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However, there is also a second way in which women are celebrated and that is with the Lolo title. (LOH-loh):
Lolo simply means 'revered one' and is the traditional title given to the wife of an Ozo or Nze who are Igbo Lords. So its the equivalent of the Dame or Dutchess moniker with one major difference.
The Ozo and Nze titles cannot be bestowed or acquired like those in Europe or a Chief, and the individual has to go through a tough and tedious vetting process by both family, village and existing members - so neither can the Lolo title.
In any case, she is looked upon as the Queen Bee of the colony who like her husband has to have a character beyond reproach to sit beside him at the apex of social prestige.
I am lucky enough to come from a family that has produced five Nze's and Lolo's including my mother Lolo Helga Ojinmah (below).
While the Ozo and Nze's assorted wives, in case of a polygamous family, are all erroneously referred to as Lolo's, in reality speaking each Nze can truly only have one true Lolo but others earn the title as well by default.
Anyway, regardless of if you are a Lolo or Chief, to reach this level and station in life means that you have done something right in the eyes of your people and for that, we can only say thank you and pray that many more young girls and ladies form your respective families will stand on your shoulders and continue this noble tradition.