Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Disturbed by the suffering and harsh treatment being meted out to widows, wife of the Bishop on the Niger, Dr. Elsie Nonyelum Nwokolo has taken up the campaign for the abolition of obnoxious widowhood practices in parts of Igboland, beginning with Anambra State.
To this end, she appealed to the traditional institutions in the state help stop various dehumanizing widowhood practices in their different domains in order to give respite to bereaved women.
She urged monarchs, as the custodian of culture to give adequate protection to widows whose husbands’ relations are forced to disinherit their husbands’ properties and go back to their parents’ homes empty handed for no just cause.
Dr. Nwokolo who made the appeal during an interactive session with some widows in Onitsha, regretted the ordeals some widows have had to go through in obedience to customs and tradition, saying that some in the process have died while others contracted diseases trying to prove innocence of not being responsible for the death of their husbands.
She expressed grave indignation in situations where widows are forced to sleep with corpses of their husbands or made to eat with unwashed hands and plates during the mourning period.
Tearfully, the cleric’s wife narrated situations where widows were forced to drink water used in washing the corpses of their husbands, a practice she described as barbaric, wicked and callous and should be stopped in every community so as to avoid the wrath of God.
Aside the abolition, she also called for stringent punishment to be meted to any family that maltreated any widow in the cause of mourning her late husband.
According to her, Christianity came to bring light, salvation and liberation to people from strong ties of evil traditions, therefore, the traditional rulers should not to allow their subjects who were liberated by the light of the gospel to still remain in bondage.
The Bishop’s wife also enjoined the monarchs to be diligent enough to see that widows in their communities were not maltreated by their husbands’ relations, saying that “widows are God’s own wives and anybody that maltreats them cannot escape God’s wrath.