Inheritance for Igbo Women
Inheritance for Igbo women has been an issue in Nigeria for a long time.
In 1991 a case was filed by a woman who said she could not be removed from the land that came to her after her father’s death. The Lagos High Court and a Court of Appeal both ruled for the woman.
Eventually the case got to the Supreme Court.
In April 2014 the Nigerian Supreme Court ruled that women have a right to inherit the property of their father. The highest court judgement came after had also affirmed this right.
Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, who read the lead judgment stated, “No matter the circumstances of the birth of a female child, such a child is entitled to an inheritance from her late father’s estate. Consequently, the Igbo customary law, which disentitles a female child from partaking in the sharing of her deceased father’s estate, is a breach of Section 42(1) and (2) of the Constitution, a fundamental rights provision guaranteed to every Nigerian.”
Inheritance Rights of an Igbo Widow
There was a second case that started even earlier. That one also concerned inheritance for Igbo women. In this case it was a widow’s right to the land where she had lived with her deceased husband. Her late husband’s family were contesting her right to remain on the property since she had no male child.
The Supreme Court ruled on that as well, giving a widow the right to her husband’s land even if she had no male child.
So I was puzzled by an article a few days ago stating the conclusion again. This time, it was an Igbo Women’s Group celebrating the decision.
They noted that the law had been “domesticated” in Anambra State, one of Nigeria’s 36 states.
I’m no lawyer. As far as I can tell, their jubilation was about the new status being recognized at the level of the state government.
Will the Law Be Enforced?
As one of the articles stated, the law is now clear. Only time will tell if it is implemented.
I gave a talk in London about this issue in April 2015, as part of a conference on Igbo Women. You can read it here.
In my comments I reported that my cousin-in-law Chinedu, who helps me stay informed on village and Igbo affairs, said the same thing. He wasn’t sure the elders, called umunna, in Nanka would respect the law.
Malaria’s Impact Decreasing
Good news – malaria is no longer the leading cause of children’s deaths in Sub-Sahara Africa.
Of course the bad news is that polio is back in Nigeria, and many other preventable diseases are still killing far too many children.
The news was reported by WHO – the World Health Organization – in a UN Radio program.
“Since 2000, the number of Africans dying from malaria has dropped by nearly 70 per cent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“But despite this progress, WHO said Africa still accounts for nearly 90 per cent of malaria cases worldwide. The disease killed 400,000 Africans last year.”
My Malaria Experience
Have you ever had malaria? It’s like a severe case of flu with chills and high fever. I had it early on in Nigeria, as I recounted in my memoir.
But there are different types. The most severe put me in the hospital for a week many years ago. I had been to Nigeria for Christmas. I was back home in Connecticut. It took a little time for the doctors to diagnose.
Then I was an object of interest for lots of interns and residents!
The photo shows someone trying out a bed net. It’s from the website that has the radio link.
Bassey Etim’s Personal Story
Following my piece about race and segregation last time, I want to tell you about a related essay.
The day after reading Affluent and Black, Still . . , I read this, Milwaukee’s Divide Runs Right Through Me. I noticed the author’s name before even taking in the title – Bassey Etim. Clearly a Nigerian.
His experience is like that of some of the children mentioned in the other piece.
“On the North Side that shaped me, there was a resentment, a reflexive skepticism that it took me awhile to understand as a son of Nigerian immigrants. But with experience, I got it. The only white people I saw in my neighborhood staffed the library.”
He says he could picture his own home as a backdrop for a police presence. He was not surprised by what happened in Milwaukee recently – riots after the death of a black man shot by police. Rather, he said, it was to be expected.
In his neighborhood, he said, “Parents tried to teach their children, in the most visceral ways they could imagine, to stay out of trouble.”
For parents of black children, especially boys in their teen and early adult years, today that means, “Be very careful. If a police person addresses you, obey completely. Keep your hands visible.”
Will he be extradited?
Or will his white privilege, his high-priced lawyer, and his fame keep him safe on American soil, even after he damaged Rio’s reputation and embarrassed his country? I love pictures in my blog, but I can’t bear to put his pic here!
Do you think there should be consequences?