THE DEVELOPING WORLD, WIDOWHOOD AND INHERITANCE
Women make up half of the world’s population, they nurture, the earth and its beings, yet burdened by the poverty and problems associated with women, men, children and the environment. It is disheartening too know that several African countries have non-implementable, non-implementing, or refused to be implemented law on widowhood and inheritance, and even when they are ready to implement this law, it takes the lifetime of the affected woman before judgment is proclaimed, this due to the cumbersome nature of out courts proceedings.
Widowhood and inheritance should not be a subject for 2010, if we are really developing, but today they are two peculiar challenges faced by women yet unaddressed by our leaders through their non-implementable instruments, it will be right then to say that the laws of the clan supersedes that of the land, or do we agree that the problems of our women is the least of our governments’ problems. Will it also not be wrong to conclude that gender imbalance or unequal representation of gender at the helms of affair has part to play in this? Stories and unending cries, it is unbelievable that some women have to be married to their brother in law in order to have access to their children and their husband’s property, mind you they worked together for the property and when we dig deep, into productive roles, and activity profile we will submit to the fact that women play overwhelming roles in the acquisition of these property, yet are denied of them, after the death of their spouses.
Apart from India, that ensures that all inheritance go to the wife, there are no countries in our developing world who is truly interested in the plight of the widows and their inheritance, this is a condition not desired by any woman but accepted because no one can question her maker. Several women in the developing world have been denied the right and desire to mourn their husbands because of inheritance grabbing, imagine a woman sitting beside the late husband’s corpse and watching as her life’s saving is being grabbed not by strangers but practically disinherited by in laws.
Patriarchy has been institutionalized to disinherit women of all dignity, it has been used for hundreds of years and it is still being used, although subtly in the areas of patriarchy- predator- protection. It will be satisfying if one can get the answer to who is a predator and who is a protector? Who is to be protected, who seeks protection from whom? Lots of generative questions we would agree. Have you ever read or witnessed ceremonies on widowhood rites? Then it may be right to say that everywoman needs protection from women and men in this regard, because elderly women are used to perpetuate the worst form of human’s inhumanity to human when it comes to this dastard rite, it must be a topic for another day.
What are our leaders doing? In Nigeria, we have the available instruments, but what of the unwritten codes? Do you sue the clan? Fight against the in laws, in our world where MARRIAGE IS CONSIDERED AN INVIOLATE INSTITUTION! And these widows remain in appalling conditions because of their children. May be we should also take a closer look at the fact that even as beautiful as this legal instruments look like and presented by our not so working or slow institutions, the court proceedings are re-traumatizing and always filled scenarios of mad rush of emotions. Consequently, may we be moved enoug to retrospect on the double burden being borne by a single widow.
My mother became a widow on May 9th, 1976, I was barely three years old, afterward, we moved out of my father’s house on the 15th of June same year or thereabout, just to allow my mother to experience the mandatory forty days mourning of her husband, you will not believe that my next visit was when my husband accompanied me back there on the eve of our wedding, to pay his respect to the dead you will say, nobody from my father's clan visited us after the eviction, my mother single handely funded my education up till Masters level when I said I had had enough, she was a dedicated woman.
I am interested in real life stories from developing countries, and we can collaborate to plan the way forward, is it mass education or enlightenment campaign?, is it true that we are faced with hopelessnesss with regards to our men?, I do not believe, men can learn, re-learn and can unlearn too, and on a positive note, we can also educate the boys of today, a popular adage form the Western region of Nigeria says, "we must prune the Iroko tree while it is young and budding if not it will soon be demanding for sacrifice and worship, forgetting that we planted it" .
It is hard to think about a woman who is passing through this agony presently but the next widow must not be allowed to undergo that deadly challenge again, the world must act. It begins with me. It begins with you.