A widow is described as a woman that her lost her husband. While this definition has stood the test of time with virtually everyone agreeing to it, it is worth noting that widowhood does not necessarily have to mean losing a spouse, especially in sane environments.
In developing nations especially African countries, widowhood is a different ball game compared to what is obtainable in developed countries. As a woman, you are open to many choices. There is the choice of being a widow even before the death of your spouse or even worse, training your daughter to become a widow in-the-making if her spouse unfortunately dies before her.
While no woman would want to lose her spouse, the irony remains that no woman or man wants to die before his or her spouse. It therefore means that someone has to die before the other, at least in most cases. For a man, there is usually no pressure regardless of who dies first. An African woman however has many things to contend with if she becomes an “African Widow”.
In this context, an African widow is a woman that is not empowered to fight and even defeat the so-called traditions in many African nations that has subjected the feminine folks to maltreatment after the passage of their husbands.
The last time I checked, it is only in Africa that you have such passage rites like the woman drinking the water washed off the corpse of her husband to prove that she knows nothing about the death of the man. Some widows are also subjected to victimization from the relatives of their dead husbands by making the woman marry the sibling of her late husband. In even more insane societies, widows are made to sleep with the corpse of their husbands in a room for days, in the name of funeral rites.
The different forms of maltreatment of widows mentioned above, are just some of the many traditions in Africa and other parts that women are made to pass through after the passing away of their “better half”.
Everyone is usually quick to blame the government and ask for laws to prohibit these acts. My people, my people, for how long will we wait till we stop this craze. Instead of asking for laws or blaming it on the tradition, why don’t you take the bold step of getting prepared for that day when you probably might be a “woman who was married to a spouse who is now dead” and not an “African Widow” that is ridiculed after the death of her husband.
BE empowered and not necessarily getting a formal education, but knowing how to make ends meet and may be planning the future with your spouse and this should include having him write a WILL even if the document is sometimes disregarded.
And for our daughters, it is incumbent on us to ensure that they are educated and have their destinies in their hands instead of being at the mercy of a man that his passing away will mean doom to them.
It’s June 23, International Widow’s Day. Let’s take time to reflect on the kind of woman we and our daughters want to be in the class of widows.