When death strikes and rob a woman of her husband, she remains a widow as long as she did not remarry. The challenges of widowhood are many, they range from running the family as a single parent, providing for the children, if they are younger and acing as a model for them. No matter the load of burden on the widow, the society appear to pay less attention to their plight. It is common to hear people discuss orphanages, old people homes and home for the physically challenged in the society. It might create bumps in mouth to talk about a home for the widows. This is because, societal care for windows is a remote idea.
Lovers of philanthropic deeds mourned for days, when Mrs. Uzor Obi-Okoli, the proprietress of: Tender Love Orphanage Center in Akwa Ibom State was gruesomely murdered by her offspring’s. People bemoaned the fate of those little tots whose life depended on her generosity.
In the same vein warren Buffet, the second richest man in the World donated $31 billion to a foundation run by Bill and Melinda Gates. The purpose of the donation was combating disease in the pacific Caribbean and Atlantic countries, which cut across Asia and Africa. The orphans, the aged and the physically challenged will have a share each in this greatest gesture of the 21st century, but widows were not remembered. This neglect makes the widow an endangered species in our society.
At the very extreme, some cultures in Nigeria give the widow a forsake of hell on earth. Take for instance, recently Delta State House of Assembly threw out the 2002 widow rights bill which sought to prohibit age long crude practices which a widow goes through in the course of mourning her husband. These include; her drinking the water used in bathing her deceased husband, abstaining from bathing during the period of mourning and eating and drinking without washing her hands. Eating repeatedly from the same used plates. Other practices include: her wearing black cloths and sitting in a particular place for months during her mourning as well as being compelled to remarry from within her dead husband’s widows in Delta State are not as lucky as their Ebonyi State counterparts. When a similar bill was introduced in the Ebonyi House of Assembly, it saw the light of the day.
Today it is an offence to demand a widow in that with crude cultural practices. Some states agree that widows require a fair deal. While many others feel the fate of the widow should not compel them to alter their cherished cultural practices. There is a culture in Nigeria where relatives of the dead man inherit all his belongs: cash, dresses up to his chairs, while the widow and her children are left to live as destitute. This is ancient madness, which should be cosigned into rubbish bin of the new millennium.
Considering the rate at which man of the information of Age is moving make life and living more comfortable, widows should be carried along. The time has come and the time is now when religions, organizations, philanthropists and NGOs should establish foundation which could give succor to an army of widows who passed through harrowing experiences in a daily basis. Any foundation or organization established to cater for the affairs of widows, should not be left to donor bodies for fund. It should be a collective affair. The easiest way to better the lot of fatherless children is through their mother. These fatherless children are the expected leaders tomorrow, our society therefore owe them so much to enable them survive.
The course of the widow and the fatherless occupy a place in the mind of God, that the bible records in Isaiah 1:17, thus “Learn to do good, see justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow”. The instruction is clear. Plead the course of the widow today, who knows whether it was for that reason God has made you what you are.