Narratives of Widowhood: Conversations with Widows in Southeastern Nigeria

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Faith OLANREWAJU, Covenant University Ota, Nigeria
Lady AJAYI, Covenant University, Nigeria
Olive ONWULI, Covenant University, Nigeria
This article contributes to ethnological discourses of the contexts and personal experiences of the role of culture on widowhood rites. Over the years, academic discourse have not always captured the personal narratives of widows. It is most often lost in statistics, convention and media reports of humanitarian responses. However, this article presents a documentation of the unedited narratives of widows, their personalised experiences in southeastern Nigeria as it relates to widowhood rite procedure they have been subjected to. Not only does it explore their personal, experiences, it also investigates the extent to which violence against women still continues due to certain factors; one of which is culture as identified in this article. It is interesting to view how culture has normalised violence against women through widowhood rites which usually include practices like shaving of the hair on the head and the pubic region, days of co-habiting with the deceased, confinement in thatched houses and seizing of properties, among others. Therefore, this article examined the extent to which culture has influenced gender-based human rights violation particularly amongst the widows in Oshimili-North Local Government Area, Delta State. The theories of cultural relativism and universalism were employed in this article to understand the dynamism of culture. It was discovered that, there was a degree of willingness among the women to go on with these practices despite acknowledging the negative effects that accompanies the process. There is the dire need to champion the cause of getting women to understand their rights and come out of the shadows culture has built around them. It is time women begin to see themselves not as recipients but as participants of culture.