A widow, Perpetua Oche, has narrated how she lost her husband about nine years ago and his relative was asked to marry her.
In an interview with Daily Trust, Oche called for abolishment of harmful widowhood practices which she fortunately managed to overcome.
She said : “I’m from Benue State—Idoma by tribe, but my husband was from Delta State. I lost him nine years ago. I have a daughter. After I lost my husband in August 2013, he wasn’t buried until after six months because of some family issues. I had to stay in the family house from that August till October when I went to carry my belongings from Lagos because that was where we resided. So, when I came back in October, I had to live again in the family residence and look for a means to take care of my daughter until February the following year, when he was buried.
“After my late husband’s burial in 2014, I was told that there were some traditional rites to be observed. The elders assembled and I was put in their midst with my baby, then I was told that I had to marry one of the relatives. However, before then, God used one of them to tell me what was going to happen so when they told me that, I replied that I couldn’t do such a thing so they said if I was not going to oblige the request, I would have to return the dowry. Fortunately for me, my parents had told me not to argue with them. So, I asked how much the dowry was.
“They asked the person who was to inherit me how much I was going to return, and he mentioned a certain amount but the women of the house said no, that the amount was too much. So, he now mentioned an amount which I had on me, and I brought out the money and gave to him. Afterwards, the eldest man in the house prayed for me and my daughter, then they released us to go. They requested that we should buy malt drinks which the elders would pray on, drink and also pray for me.”
Asked on she coped with her in-laws during the mourning period, she said :” During the mourning period, while I was still in Benin, my mother-in-law did not want me to go (leave marital home), she was citing instances of several women who lost their husbands and were still in the house.
” But, I was very young then, 32; everyone had abandoned us and we were alone with my mother-in-law that period. I was the only one doing the house work, trek to the market with my baby – then come back home and cook. Although people were sending money to me and I was the one feeding my mother-in-law, but I couldn’t continue living on hand outs at that age. I decided to leave so I can come back home (Benue) and fend for my daughter. My mother-in-law however became angry. She said if I must go, I would have to leave my daughter behind. I didn’t argue with her because my people told me not to argue. I was just praying and then one day, she told me that if I wanted to go, I should come and write an undertaking that I will be bringing the girl from time to time, and I will also give her the address and phone numbers of all my relations. I said no problem. I wrote the phone numbers and gave her all the addresses she required from me. I however didn’t write the undertaking since I didn’t argue with her, so she didn’t know what else to do. That was how I finally left and came back to my own people in Benue.”
Speaking further, she said : “I was asked to declare his assets before my husband’s burial and like I said earlier, my parents told me not to argue with them but to tell them everything I knew. They told me never to struggle with anything about property. They went to get some of the things like the cars but I don’t know about the house and lands. “