Widows: Tools For Late Husbands Relatives...?

“What do you know? When were you born?” These are questions I often receive from both friends and new acquaintances when I write on things that they think is beyond my reach or better still like they put it “scope of understanding” Yet, I strongly believe that “until the lion learns how to write, the glory will always go to the hunter” My third book publication - Addi Di Chim x-rayed certain practices of the Igbo people. 

The Igbo’s are more practical than speculative in their manner of viewing reality. Igbo’s are known to be rich in culture, traditions and customs – I know this because I am one. Among these beliefs include – Ogbanje, Iyi-Uwa, Ofo, Ilo Uwa, Iwa Oji and Igba Nkpe (Mourning) for a better understanding of these beliefs do read my book on the history of Addi Abajah. Most practices widows experience in line with Igbo culture have been claimed to violate the human rights of women. Scratch that; the practices has violated their human rights and not claimed to have. Widows are meant to mourn their dead husbands for upwards of between six months. In my mother’s case it was a little above 1 year and few months, it wasn’t out of free will but “one of the best lessons you can learn in life is to master how to remain calm”

To make matters worse, widows in most parts would also not take their bath for upwards of three weeks, after which they would be accompanied at the dead of the night, to a river where they were shaved and then bathed. During such journeys, people were not supposed to see them as they would be naked since they would swear by the river that they were not responsible for their husband’s death, before the shaving exercise. Should there be any suspicion that the woman had a hand in the death of her husband, she was usually forced to drink the water used in washing the body of the late husband. Though, this situation slightly varies in parts of the Igbo land, especially the areas where there are no rivers or streams.

There are high cases of maltreatment of widows ranging from the denial of rights or privileges, physical assault, seizure of husbands’ properties both moveable and immoveable. Such maltreatments are however resolved if the Umunna intervenes. If there are cases of couples not living together as a result of quarrels before the demise of the man, the widow is prevented from participating in the burial of the deceased man. It is in this situation that the woman is alleged to have committed atrocities and required to perform “cleansing” before being allowed to participate in the burial of her spouse. 

The truth remains that no man is deemed to have died a natural death because something must be linked with his death. In some communities, they are forced to use disused or disfigured plastic plates that are food enough to feed dogs, to eat. She is not allowed to eat with anybody. The spoon, plate, cup among her other cutleries are different from others. Relatives and brothers of the late husband who think a widow is one to contend with should reacquaint themselves with Ex. 22:22-23 “you must not mistreat any widow or orphan, if you do mistreat them and they cry out to Me in distress, I will surely hear their cry” Becareful!!!

Dominic C.C (ISMN)


  1. So true but base on the advancement in Civilization many Igbo communities has put a stop to such evil practices only little places (thick) such things are being done and with time we hope such practices will become history.

  2. Really appreciate your response to this...I hope that with time such barbaric practices will completely be erased.


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