THE EFFECT OF WIDOWHOOD PRACTICES IN AFRICAN TRADITIONAL SOCIETY A CASE STUDY OF OBIMO COMMUNITY IN NSUKKA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF ENUGU STATE

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1     BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

          The end of every life is death, this common truth is accepted both the religious and, circular society, developed and primitive society, industrially and non-industrial nations.

Even though death is a generally accepted phenomenon, the methods and terms of rituals that follows are different as societies differs.

African society may be widely acclaimed to be the highest society with deep concern over death especially as it has to do with mourning of the deceased. This is because Africa in her own way of life believe in life after death of which the deceased must be properly escorted to through their age long rituals.

One of these rituals is widowhood practices, which conditions the wife or wives of a deceased husband to comply accordingly ton the laid principles of the culture. These practices are not without effects, which this research work is set to uncover, discourse, and make recommendations to the entire society, the government, different non-governmental organizations.

It is better to say emphatically that the practices of African widowhood rituals possess more of negative effect than positives. According to Ojiakor (2000:28) “it is a generally held view that widows undergo excruciating hardships upon the demise of their husbands, these ranges from dehumanisation, health hazards and deprivation properties jointly acquired by the spouses during their life time”.

For a clearer view of the effect of widowhood practices in African traditional society, lets briefly consider Obimo a typical traditional African community in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State.

Widowhood practices is a part of the Obimo Community and cannot be totally abhorred no matter the clamour for change do to the people’s insistent on their beliefs.

1:2    STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

          Generally, bereavement involves psychosocial crises and immeasurable emotional upheaval for the bereaved. For a woman who has suffered the loss of her husband (Bread winner, father of her children and companion). It is an extra burden to fulfil the norms spelled for widowhood rituals.

          A woman losing her husband is very traumatic. The pain of bereavement itself is the first stress that faces a widow. For Hobson (1964:222) “nearly all the women had experienced insomnia, loss of appetite, headaches, stomach upsets and other nervous complaints” Okoli (1998:4) confirmed that a majority of women suffer physical, economic and social damage as a result of death of their husbands.

          It is against the background of the above explanation that this research work is making a clarion call for the government, federal, state and local. Leaders of thoughts, community leaders for example Obimo community leaders to rise up to the challenges of correcting the anomies against the widows. This is because widowhood practices to a large extent is bedevilled by problems and contradictions, which have never been to the benefit of the widows nor to the society in its entirety.

1:3    RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  • What are these widowhood practices in traditional Obimo sub – cultural area of Igbo society?
  • To what extent do these practices affect the widows in Obimo community?
  • How do the members of the public and relatives treat widows in Obimo community?
  • To what extent do widows react in relation to these practices?
  • To what extent can the net effect of these widowhood practices be measured?

1:4    OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

          To examine widowhood practices in traditional Obimo Community in Nsukka local Government Area.

          To examine the effect of these widowhood practices in Obimo community.

          To examine how widows are been treated mainly by their men counterpart and the “Umuada” palaver,

          To examine the coping strategy of the widow in order to caution the effect of those practices.

          And finally, to grow possible recommendations for achieving the grieves and burdens of the widows.

1:5    SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

          This work is therefore significant as it will give insight into the excruciating experiences of the widows, for example, many traditional social preferences seriously hamper widows’ basic human rights. The government and the general public will be better informed through this work so to provide better basis policy implementation that may bring an improvement on the conditions of the widows.

          This research work will also boast the resource materials and which will in turn increase the knowledge base on the widowhood practices in African setting since we know that widowhood practices are peculiar to the African society to a larger extent.

          Again, the written works of non African Aborigines on the subject of widowhood practices has been ethnocentric, therefore, this work will; also join other related African researched works on the subject of discussion to correct the wrong impressions hold by the Western societies about Africa as barbaric and primitive.

1:6    STUDY HYPOTHESIS

Hi – Widows in Obimo community are not well treated by their cultural practices and the people of Obimo community.

Ho – Widows in Obimo community are well treated by their cultural practices and the people of Obimo community.

H2 – There is significant (Serious) effect of widowhood practices on widows in Obimo community .

Ho—There is no significant effect of widowhood practices on widows in Obimo community.

1.7     DEFINITION OF TERM

WIDOW: A widow is a woman whose husband is late and has not married another man.

WIDOWHOOD: Widowhood in this context means a state or time of being a widow.

WIDOWHOOD PRACTICES: These are sets of traditional activities and behaviours expected of a woman when her husband dies by the society as well as the general attitude towards her especially by her husbands kins.

They also include rituals performed by the widow from the time of her death of her husband till her full liberation.

IGBO SOCIETY: The Igbo people dwell mainly in the tropical forest areas of south-eastern Nigeria in West Africa.

UMUADA: They are married and unmarried daughters of a particular extended family. In other words, they are relatives to the late husband to the widow.

‘ATTAMAH’: This is a name given to a priest that officiate during sacrifices and see to the proper moderation and handing of every traditional religious activities in Obimo community.

INSOMNIA: it’s a condition of not being able to sleep.

1.8     THE STUDY AREA

          The researcher focuses solely on Obimo community in Nsukka Local government area of Enugu state as a case study.

          Obimo is one of the autonomous communities that make up Nsukka local Government Area among other communities like Edem and Obukpu etc.

          The smallest sociological unit in Obimo is the family which emerges through her own peculiar way of marriage making, for example, (monogamy and polygamy).

          Social life in Obimo involves the involvement of both men, women and children. For example, men’s social and religious activities are dancing, wrestling, title holding (ozo) and the initiations and religious rituals.

          Politically, she operates a simple village democracy of which the eldest man becomes the president of the “Nation”.

          Economically, agriculture is the main stay of her economy which like every peasant society border within the fringe of subsistence system.

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