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Experts Call For Review Of ‘Widow Inheritance’ In Nigeria

The colloquium, themed “Widow Inheritance: Myth and Reality,” took place at the Aderemi Makanjuola Lecture Theatre.

By Adeniyi Adebiyi

Several stakeholders of Lagos State University (LASU) have advocated for a comprehensive reassessment of “Widow Inheritance” across Nigeria, West Africa, and beyond.

Dr. Olubunmi Adedina from the Department of Theatre and Music at LASU, along with Dr. Saheed Timehin and Dr. Adeyinka Wulemat Olarinmoye, Acting Head of Department of Tourism and Hospitality at the School of Tourism, Film, Performing Arts, and Cultural Studies, emphasized this need during a unique colloquium organized by the newly established school.

The colloquium, themed “Widow Inheritance: Myth and Reality,” took place at the Aderemi Makanjuola Lecture Theatre on the main campus in Ojo, Lagos, where the speakers highlighted the enduring practice of widow inheritance, rooted in tradition but still prevalent today purportedly for the welfare and protection of widows from societal stigma.

Dr. Adedina, speaking as the first presenter, underscored that widowhood inheritance in Igboland is voluntary rather than compulsory, emphasizing the evolving nature of culture and the necessity for periodic evaluation. She lamented the trend towards individualism at the expense of communal values in African societies.

“This generation will see widow inheritance as barbaric. With the present economic realities, no man wants to add to his burden by taking in a widow. In Igbo culture, it is not by force that the brother of the deceased marries the wife of his late brother. 

“Widow inheritance is a transitional culture, which would go out of fashion with time,” she stated.

Dr. Saheed Timehin, who represented Prof. Amidu Sanni in his part explained that a woman in Islam has the right to inheritance. 

“An inheritor can not be inherited. She is not a property. Muslim societies have not lived up to the dictates of Islam as regards the issue of widow inheritance. Islam is very clear about women, and they have a place of honour. A woman can inherit her father as well as her husband’s property. That is the position of Islam. 

“It is sinful for a family to force a widow to stay in the family for the sake of inheritance.” 

He added that her inheritance should not be tied to her being inherited.

“Widow Inheritance is waning in cosmopolitan cities. Forced widow inheritance should be discouraged. It is a very unfair practice to the women. Widow inheritance should not be forced and not compulsory, and the solution to it is polygyny. An inheritor can not be part of the inheritance,” he said. 

However, Dr. Adeyinka Wulemat Olarinmoye, Acting Head of the Department of Tourism and Hospitality at the School of Tourism, Film, Performing Arts, and Cultural Studies (LASU), shared her perspective on the same topic, drawing from the Yoruba cultural context. She expressed that the tradition aims to safeguard vulnerable widows in society and emphasized that participation is voluntary.

Dr. Olarinmoye highlighted the widespread nature of the practice across Nigeria, Africa, and certain parts of Asia. She explained that the Yoruba community established it as a form of support to help widows navigate the challenges following the loss of their husbands.

Furthermore, she noted that widow inheritance remains prevalent in the southwest of Nigeria, with women engaging in it willingly and without coercion. She urged authorities, particularly custodians of culture, to modernize the practice in line with contemporary realities.

………..

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