By Ebun Babalola
It used to be worse, in the time past; but it could be better than it is now: What widows go through inspite of the influence of religion and western culture.
It was not uncommon, then to force widow to drink the water used in washing her husband’s corpse, to prove that she was not responsible for his death; or to force a widow marry oneof her late husband’s siblings. While some of these are on the decline or discarded all together, widoes still have unpleasant tales to tell.
I went on the street begging- Felicia
Mrs. Felicia Ezebor who lost her husband nine years ago: “The day the news of my husband’s death came to me, my the hopes evaporated. That was when I knew that there is no help from anywhere except God. I was downcast to the extent that I no longer knew what was happening around me. It was as if the whole world had forgotten me.
“Before my husband’s death, life was very rosy, we were one big family. I realized it was good to be married. My six children were happy that they had wonderful parents.
I remember that my husband used to organize regular get-together in his house just to get his immediate family closer to his relatives.
All these went through until the day death took him away. Then, I realized how life could be so cruel to a woman whose hope and joy have been taken away. Those who called themselves my husband’s relations turned their backs on me. They called me all sorts of names; that my plan was to inherit my husband’s property without giving him a male child. I have six children, one male and five female, yet they were not satisfied.
I was shocked at their action. I never believed I could be subjected to such torment from the so-called in-laws and people that never ceased to come to our house while my husband was alive.
Since the death of my husband, his relations do not bother about six children. They claimed there was no money to send my children to school. All efforts to convince them proved abortive and I had to take up the challenge of training them. None of them was ready to take care of me and my children.
“To worsen the situation, the company that employed me as a cleaner on contract didn’t deem it fit to pay me. As a casual worker, the man in-charge of our department keep giving us different excuses for not paying our wages. I have been living on no payment in that company since July, 2010. He maintains that the company doesn’t pay him on a monthly basis; that everything depends on the company.
“I have had course to go on the street begging so that my children can feed and go to school. At times, I weep over the death of my husband and my children regularly recall unforgettable moments with their father. I believe widowhood is not a disease but it’s a painful experience.
“I have a boy and five girls. My son is a graduate of Auchi Polytechnic; he is now serving in Kogi State. One of the girls is an OND holder at the Lagos State Polytechnic, the third child is in a College of Education under the sponsorship of Citadel of Hope and Love. The fourth one is a caterer; the fifth child has just gained admission into Auchi Polytechnic, while the sixth child is in SS 1.
The mystery behind this is, God has been faithful. I’ve always believed that God is the husband of the widow, so when everybody turned their back against me, I trusted in God. And God has been sending good Samaritans to me.
There is no time. I kneel down and call upon God that He doesn’t listen to me. Immediately my fourth child completed secondary education, a widow friend introduced me to Citadel of Hope and Love, an NGO that specializes in reshapening the lives of the widows, orphans and single parents. And since, I’ve known this group; my life hasn’t been the same.
“It’s a pity that the country which we live in, doesn’t appreciate the essence of a widow or what she passes through. The society should come and help the widows; many of us are without help, we are at the mercy of our in-laws who never believe in us. A woman who has no husband, no matter how rich she is, still needs assistance. I don’t expect anyone to look down on widows or the fatherless because it can happen to anybody. Death is inevitable.
My husband’s relations denied me of my rights- Bosede Adisa
The death of my husband was a mystery. I lost him about five years ago. He was on his way to his office when a call came that he had been shot by unknown gunmen. The truth is that, it wasn’t too long that he left the house that the news of his death was brought to me. I was shocked and for a couple of months, I wasn’t myself.
“Shockingly, his relatives started threatening me; asking me to quit the house or alternatively marry his younger brother. At that point, I was devastated; I didn’t know what to do. There were series of family meetings concerning that but I refused the proposal.
I never knew that, that was the beginning of the problem. I started living a life of a frustrated widow. There was no place to go. That was when I knew my husband was dead. His relatives made go through hell. Today, they have all rejected and promised not to have anything to do with me.
They have denied me all my rights and promised not to cater for their late brother’s child.
I’m at the mercy of my in-laws- Bunmi Ishola
“My marriage lasted more than nine years until death came and took my husband away. His relations were against our wedding but my husband insisted.
“For them, it wasn’t a wise decision to marry a girl from my hometown, Ondo State. But, he insisted and we got married. Things had been rosy until three years ago that he started complaining of stomach ache and died.
“Surprisingly, they didn’t attend his funeral and all of a sudden, they demanded for all my husband’s landed documents. They didn’t bother helping my children. I have four children and they have squandered his property. They threw me and the children out. Right now, I have no help except God.
We are trying to reach out to as many widows as possible– Bishop Olusola Olukolade, Founder, Citadel of Hope and Love.
“It is a pity that people don’t see reason why they have to cater for these particular individual. Other challenges is that, some of these widows lack good health care facilities. We are hoping to get insurance for all of them with some amount of money.
“We are trying to reach-out to as many widows as possible so as to be able to mould their lives back to normal. The fact is that Nigerians don’t care about their widows especially as they are exposed to series of torture and torments by their in-laws. These people need to be educated because majority of them are maltreated because of their ignorance.
We have also considered the essence of educating the public on the need to cater for these people. These widows go through many rituals and their lives are always subjected to all kinds of dehumanization and on this note, we are going to organize a seminar on how best to address these problems. Another area, is the issue of the single parents, nobody seems to care about them. The belief of Nigerians especially the church of God is that single parents are sinners.
Therefore, they are totally neglected, we are therefore making all efforts to enable these set of people have sense of belonging. We want to raise some money to equip these people. We have trained about 85 widows who are now doing very well.
We have trained them in catering,tailoring, hairdressing, cap making, bead making, The programme is open for any widow, orphan or single parent. We organize programmes annually to sensitise the public on the plight of the widows.