I heard on radio that yesterday was the International Widow’s Day. I had never even heard of anything like that! So I googled it up and discovered that June 23 was declared the international Widow’s Day by Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Find out more about it here.
If you’ve been a regular visitor here, you should be used to these kind of coincidences. My fiance’s family lost someone; he was a son, a brother, a husband, a father, an uncle and a grandfather – and he was just 58 years old. That makes his wife a widow.
He was buried on saturday and I kept staring at his wife (widow) every chance I got. She was beautiful and stately and carried herself with a lot of courage. The thought kept popping up in my mind that this woman was now a widow and that got me thinking about the widows in my life. I suppose every family has some right?
Anyway, I thought the international widow’s day would be a perfect time to write this tribute to all the widows in my life who have contributed one way or the other to my life.
To my grandmother, Mrs Felicia Famonure… if a price tag could be placed on wisdom, the legacy I’ve received from you would make me the world’s richest woman. You have enriched my life in ways you cannot even begin to imagine; you have been an example of what love can accomplish. Thank you for the strict discipline, the dedicated prayers and unwavering belief in me… your gift of the wisdom of my people… you are one woman in a millon!
Mrs Shola Durojaiye: If you happen to come across this and read it, I know you would be surprised to see you name here. But you have been an inspiration to me. The way you have valiantly fought loneliness and have found the courage to be the mainstay of your family is nothing short of inspiring. You extended the umbrella of your love and gave me shelter as an undergrad far far away from home…it’s not something one can easily forget. You are a wonderful woman!
Mrs margaret Adinga – who is almost a perfect look alike of my mum (being her sister and all that)… I watched as you struggled to pull yourself after the loss of your husband. It was harder for you because he was your everything…but you came through for your sons and for those of us who were watching you. Even after you lost one of your two sons, you valiantly faced the anguish and heart break and allowed it to make you a stronger woman. My aunt, my friend, my role model…you are multifaceted.
Mrs Adeline Denni Fiberesima. The true and quintessential African mother…caring without being intrusive with a surplus of love for all those around you. When your son brought me home to you, he did not have to explain what role I play in his life, you just welcomed me with open arms. In the one year that I have known you, I have come to the conclusion that you are one of the strongest, bravest, most courageous women I’ve ever been privileged to know. You are one of those unsung heroes of life. It takes an amazing woman to achieve all that you have since you lost your husband. Single handedly trained 3 children, rallied up took over the management of your husband’s hospital without any previous training in management or even medicine..and you made a success of it too! If I keep writing I will not stop. That is how much there is to you. Thank you for your love and acceptance – even though I’m not yet married to your son, you have accepted me as a daughter; you have no idea how much you mean to me.
Do you have anyone in your family or amongst your friends who is a widow? They face a lot of hardship – mostly emotional. Except they are African widows then in addition to the loneliness and emotional hardship, they also have to deal with financial hardship and sometimes, cruelty from their late husband’s family; the tales will make your hair stand!
I know for certain that in some parts on Nigeria, when a man dies, his body is given a bath and his widow is forced to drink the water…(Gross I know!). The idea is that if she was in some way responsible for his death, then after drinking the water she will also die. I mean really…….! dysentery, typhoid…hello?! Those are enough to finish anybody off. But that’s tradition for you!
In most cases (like that of my aunt, Mrs Margaret Adinga), the relatives strip the widow off everything and anything they can get their hands on leaving her destitute. If she’s lucky, they leave the children for her. It’s terrible! One would think that with democracy and law courts things should be different… but the problem is a lot of the men here die without leaving wills. When there is no last will and testament, the native law and custom comes to play. And if they were married under native law and custom….God help that woman!
You can make a difference in the life of that widow around you. You can offer support in so many ways; pray, visit, run errands…anything! No one can really fill the emptiness caused by the loss of a loved one, especially a life partner, but we can make the emptiness a little less hollow.
To find out more about the plight of African widows, click here.