In addition to the physical dangers inherent in living in Kenya, my friend who ministers to widows there tells me that the future is often very grim for women who lose their husbands. Widows have no legally protected absolute rights to inheritance and in many cases the property passes to the husband’s family upon his death. Often, the grieving widow must stand by and watch as her in-laws confiscate their property, sometimes dismantling the family home and hauling away the building materials, leaving her destitute.
Margaret Nil, a widow and mother of seven, tells a story that is all too common to widows in her country:
“After his burial, things drastically changed for the worst, my in-laws took all the properties my late husband had bought, nothing was left to me; the culture does not recognise the well-being of a woman,” she told Think Africa Press.
Ngii says that most of the widows in the area do not have the right to inherit any property from their late husbands, forcing many widows to return to their ancestral homes.
“I have tried to seek help from the local authority but all in vain…I am forced to work as a house helper so that I can feed my seven children”.
After the loss of her husband, most of her friends left her to struggle alone.
“What many widows go through in our area is shocking; we are isolated and left alone. The number of suffering widows is growing day after day…The situation is even worse when the woman is illiterate, which is common in the area; some are accused of the death of their husband.”
Ngii worries how her children will cope. “It has been hard for my children to construct a traditional hut since their dad’s piece of land was sold after his burial; I do not know where to go from here.”
Many women turn to prostitution to survive.
My heart breaks for widows like Margaret and like the widow of the man killed by the hippo and I pray for their fatherless children.