At a very young age I was introduced and married to a young handsome man with good humor. We got married after a week, forged a deep bond and our love blossomed. He had a son and I loved him like my own. My husband was a small scale farmer and I joined him in farming so that we could make ends meet
We were blessed with four more kids. We did not have much but we got everything we needed and our lives were full of happiness.
One Friday afternoon, my husband was working in the farm. I had a two month old baby so I couldn’t join him. I had just put the baby to sleep and was preparing lunch when a neighbor came rushing to my compound and told me that my husband has been taken to the hospital due to a snake bite.
My whole body felt very numb and I knew the worse was still to come. He was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital.
It was one week after his death and a day to his burial when my father-in-law with a few village elders held a meeting and told me that my husband can’t be buried until they find a replacement for him to inherit me according to their traditions.
I was frozen in my moment of loss. It was decided that his elder brother who was not yet married would be the ‘’inheritor’’. I was young, naive and uneducated and I wasn’t given time to reflect on their decision and most of all I was still trying to absorb my loss.
After the burial, my brother-in-law moved in with me immediately. They took away my farm land the only source of income I knew and had. I became irrelevant to everyone including my new husband who was a drunk. He would come home and beat me up demanding for food which he never provided for. He would then force himself on me every night.
I became the village beggar, begging for food and doing cheap labor so that my step son who was already in high school would finish his education.
One year later I got pregnant, when I told him. He stopped coming to my house and went to live with another widow almost immediately. My step son had finished high school, performed well and got a scholarship to go the university. I was so happy for him and I knew at least he would take care of his siblings afterwards.
When he joined university, I never heard from him. He looked for his biological mother and left home for good. The rest of my kids had to drop out of school because the little I had was not even enough for meals.
Two years later my brother-in-law died in a road accident. The cultural practices identified me as his legal wife because the other inherited woman was not from our clan. The cultural inheritance practices had to be performed before his burial and this time around I was to be inherited by his cousin who was married and had kids.
He would visit me every night and performed his duty as an inheritor religiously until I got pregnant. When he knew I had conceived he stopped coming over. A lady came home and claimed to be my brother-in-law’s wife and had a son with him. My father-in-law then threw me out of my house and gave it to that lady.
He built me a small hut that I squeezed in with six of my children. When my last son got to the age of going to school, his father took care of his bills and he is now in the university. I developed eye problems and I am partially blind now.
My name is Hada Rianda , my tribe is widowhood, a member of the Solid Rock Widows and we are working and hoping for the day widow inheritance will be banned.