Earnest Message from Wo(ma)nderland
It is yet another dramatic day in woman-land and I am writing to you in very high spirits. As usual, the feeling in the air here is quite different from what prevails in man-land. It is certainly a rare experience I don’t want to ever end. So much continues to unfold since I arrived, and I count it all joy to keep sharing up-to-the-minute tidbits with you. I will call this note an earnest message from Wo(ma)nderland!
Before I go on to update you about the amazing comings and goings in woman-land; I guess it won’t be out of the way to ask about what has changed in man-land. It would be nice to hear that land ownership is no longer determined by patriarchal practice; where male heirs predominantly inherit the land. Are women still discriminated against and denied their rights to land and housing? How is Mrs. Angela Alfred? The last I heard of her was that her husband’s family threw her and her seven children out of the magnificent house built by her late husband; as soon as the burial rites were concluded. I also learned that it was a consensus arrived at by her in-laws, who have gone ahead to let out the property. Not even a dime from the rent is apportioned to her. Imagine that she now lives with her children in a rented one-room apartment, in a slum area in man-land.
The other day I called Mrs. Patience Emmanuel, Angela’s her bosom friend, to inquire about her welfare, and know if she was now ready to challenge the unfair treatment she suffered in the hands of her in-laws. Patience told me that “her unfortunate friend has given up her right to the house, and just wants to stay alive and take care of her children”. She also informed me that Angela believes that her in-laws her fetish and can harm her and or her children; and even suspects that they had a hand in her husband’s death. As a result, she has chosen not to challenge them, and is also not ready to have anyone do that on her behalf. Thinking about Angela’s experience still gives me creepy feelings. I could never forget how she was forced to drink a cup of spent water, fetched from the one that was used to wash her husband’s corpse; in the name of proving that she wasn’t responsible for his death. Regrettably, it changed nothing!
Now I really don’t want to bug you with too many questions but I would not mind an update on Mr. Bassey Okon. Do you remember him? He is the man who has three wives and thirteen daughters. Prior to embarking on my journey to woman-land, Patience his youngest wife, told me that Bassey was planning on taking a fourth wife. She said that he constantly threatened her and his two other wives that “he would look for another wife who can bear him a male child, so that he would not lose his land when he dies”. As you may already be aware, this account is characteristic of many a man in man-land. Of course such irrational decision revolves around the belief that a man is apt to lose his land(s) and properties to another man, once a female daughter who inherits it marries. In my opinion, it definitely makes no sense to discriminate against and deny women and girls the right to own land and housing, under the guise of very bizarre cultural beliefs and practices. Women deserve better and the truth is that change can actually happen.
I have been doing a lot of fact finding and become all too conscious that things are working out so well in woman-land. A caller here is always greeted with the all too familiar friendly and content glares of auspicious men, women, boys and girls. Everywhere one turns, the cheery faces of women and girls mirror this accord. The prefecture is egalitarian and the women and girls here are organized, speak with one voice, are heard, celebrated, confident, protected, and influential. In fact, they are treated as equals in all respects; such that it leaves one wondering if they are living among men. Please believe me when I say woman-land is inhabited by fully fledged men.
There is something particularly dazzling about women’s property and land rights over here, which I am all too eager to share with you. The level of understanding and synergy between men and women is next to nothing I have witnessed in man-land. Would you believe that Issues of gender inequality in property right and ownership is nonexistent? The established practice and perception of women’s position is one that supports women’s access to and control over resources. In fact the Constitution in woman-land emphasizes equal rights to land and property for both men and women.
A few days back, I met Rachael Umana, a female-head of household, who inherited a large portion of farmland which belonged to her late husband. Rachael is living a happy and thriving life with her three daughters, and her primary source of livelihood is the inherited farmland from which she is able to cater for her family’s needs. She related how so proud she is of her deceased husband and misses him a great deal. I am sure that you will agree with me that her story reveals how granting land inheritance and ownership to women positively influences family income and a woman’s self-assurance. It typifies the reality that there is a strong link between socio-economic power and land ownership.
Among the several other wonderful women I had the privilege of meeting is 23 year old Talatu Audu, an orphan. She happens to be the only child of late Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Andrew who died in an auto crash, several years ago. As enshrined in woman-land, she inherited her parents’ property at a very young age. If such a challenge has been surmounted in woman-land land, then it can also happen in man-land. All it is going to take is the kind of the fortitude that prevails over here. Seeing believes, and I am relishing the opportunity, and enjoying each eye-opening moment. I feel really encouraged knowing that achieving land and property rights is realizable.
I have learnt a lot here and hope you have too from what I shared. It is about time that the chauvinists in man-land sheath their swords of apathy, abuse, oppression, victimization, discrimination and marginalization and borrow a leaf from the men in woman-and. I know you will be of immense assistance in the area of enlightening your equals about issues that bother on women’s housing and land rights. Together, we can break the cycle of entrenched cultural, political, and economic barriers impeding women’s right to access and own land in man-land. I am actually looking forward to continue contributing my quota; to ensure that change happens quickly. There is more to gain from gender equality in access to and control over land and property, and I hope we can work together to achieve that in man-land when I finally return.
Thank you for being a listening ally. Greetings to ALL!