Photo by:faith mwende

African societies can be very controlling and uncaring. Culture that expects a widow to forget about her needs and just raise children while staying loyal to the dead. Yet the marriage vows themselves said that you were marrying until death, not beyond it. And if it’s a widowed man, he is advised to marry immediately after burial and people would claim, “how would you expect him to survive without marrying.”

This is a masterpiece in African set up, can we find a mother in-law with Naomi’s wisdom from the bible, where she will encourage her daughter in law to remarry as long as she’s interested. I think African culture should allow widows if they’re still young and they need love again to carry on with their lives while allowing their children to relate with their paternal relatives as much as circumstances allow.

This controlling culture makes widows to make difficult decisions; if she left home to go start another life and remarry elsewhere, she would separate these children from their bloodline. They may miss out on the security afforded to them by the clan as well as a sense of belonging. She also cannot foretell if the children will fit into whichever other family she marries into. She also fears that if she starts seeing other men while still there, she will be met with a nasty backlash it’s shameful. She’ll also be afraid maybe the antagonistic family takes away her children’s inheritance and she might be less financially stable. Thus, she’s expected to remain unmarried.

There’s courage and a cost for standing up for yourself as a widowed woman in Africa because all eyes are on you and this frequently evokes feeling of shame and pity. The widowed is ashamed of her new marital status and receives pity from society. I know of widows who have been frowned upon because of re-marrying and sometimes the other family rejects them especially if they were married in a traditional ceremony. They say that the widows belong to that family forever. I believe its just an archaic myth.

Society won’t accept the bitter truth but it’s the way to go. The only prison we have as Africans is inheritance and clan security and I personally think they are overrated. Though we should respect and uphold societal standards, I believe we shouldn’t be held captives. Widow’s voices and experiences must be centered in the movements and policies that impact their lives. From local campaigns to international action.

The bible allows widows and widowers to remarry but it should be after having good time to mourn. There are many advantages in re-marrying so I will encourage widows to go ahead as long as you are sure you have the right man before you. However, it is important to maintain good relations where possible with the departed husband’s family.

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