Today is World Widows’ Day, which was set aside by the UN to create awareness on their predicament. However, some elders in Nakuru County said the killing of African traditions such as wife inheritance have not assisted widows much since bringing up children without family support has proved to be a tall order for some of them.
Chief John Koskey of Waseges Subukia Sub-County said among the Kalenjin community nobody is more protected than a widow. He said taking a widows’ property was unheard of in their community because traditions have sealed a strong ring of protection for them. He urged the government to include widows with young children among the Inua Jamii program.
He was speaking to KNA on Tuesday.
The Chief said in the past it was common for the brothers of the widow to continue having children with her but due to diseases such as HIV/AIDS that practice was discontinued. However, their protection is intact. He added that attacking a widow even verbally was considered ‘muma’ a curse and even young children are taught to respect them.
However, a Luo elder and Pastor from Kwa Rhonda, Jackton Otieno said: ‘’activists have denied a number of widows a right to bring up children within the wider African setting and a number of them have gone astray. Wife inheritance was meant for the protection of the widow in the family and perpetuation of the husbands’ lineage but due to alien campaigns discrediting a tradition, which has served our community well many have run away from their marital families and children have become difficult to manage.’’
He said he has had to reconcile many widowed women with their husbands’ families when the women reach out to him for mediation after children become deviants and luckily some families step in to assist. But he said he has also been in the forefront of ensuring that widows were not disinherited.
Otieno appealed to those who are against wife inheritance to encourage the widows to maintain a cordial relationship with their late husbands’ families because no matter what happens those are their children’s closest relatives.
The Pastor discouraged town dwellers from encouraging their children from calling non-blood relatives as ‘aunties and uncles’ and instead introduce them to their real relatives since when pull comes to push those are the only people who can stand in for such children.
He added that Jesus Christ has a long lineage of women who were inherited since it was a Jewish tradition.
Abagusii elder, Clement Makori said wife inheritance was no longer necessary but no child should be denied a chance to interact with their late father’s relatives because they require it for proper growth.
A widow who lives in Kaptembwo, Ruth Moraa was full of praises for her in-laws who have paid her children’s school fees and built a house for her. However, she said widows’ status varies from one family to another.
By Veronica Bosibori