Written By Azubuine Uche Nonso on the occasion of 2022 International Women’s Day Celebration.
Many women especially the feminist group in an attempt to achieve equality argue that women are marginalized when it comes to having a fair share of their Father’s property. This is to say, that they feel that their male counterparts in the family are treated better.
How true is this claim ?
The narrative that women are marginalized which has fueled so much bitterness in the minds of young women who may not have understood this equity based-inclusion structure put in place by the traditional forefathers who in their wisdom have given the Igbo community guiding laws that has long stood the test of time.
In the shortest and most simplistic way let’s dissect the tradition. Come with me.
All things being equal, the Igbo culture expects a woman to marry and then move to her husband’s house. When a woman gets married, she already has an inheritance with the husband because the husband must have inherited from his own Father.
The brothers of the woman inherit from their father. They will then marry other women who haven’t ‘inherited’ ‘anything’ and each shares their inheritance with the wife.
The real question is, whether the woman is born just to share with the husband and not have a direct possession from the parents?
This question is answered in the traditional activity known as ‘IDU UNO’. Idu uno which translates; settlement, takes place when the woman is getting married.
The family of the woman gives her so many gifts, from kitchen utensils, young animals to train, even land for very rich Fathers. In this generation some women from wealthy homes get houses and cars during the idu uno part of the traditional marriage rites.
In the real sense of idu uno the items given out, sometimes may measure up to what the brothers will inherit. Some fathers sell lands to achieve the prestigious idu uno for their cherished daughters.
Leaving the remaining lands for the sons to build on and cultivate for livelihood.
Would it not be a show of ignorance of the Igbo tradition to say that women do not inherit anything from their Fathers?
What if the woman’s Father doesn’t have these things to give? This is no longer a case of inadequacy of the Igbo culture but a family problem. A man can only give what he has. A woman who his Father doesn’t have land will not be given the family house so that she can feel like a man. Of course she will still have a home with the husband.
Even after a woman is married, she still has the right to visit her fathers house and even sleep over as much as she wants. None of her brothers have an exclusive right to deny her shelter.
Let me now mention scenarios where women get direct inheritance from their Fathers.
If a woman decides not to marry, often times where the family doesn’t have a male child to continue the family lineage and she agrees to save the family by bearing male children who will sustain lineage, she will get land to farm and live. Again, If a woman becomes ‘unlucky’ with marriage she can also get a land to farm and live.
The Igbo tradition, rates women no less in this subject and it will be a little mischievous for anyone to make young women feel victimized on this issue in Igbo Land.
Egbe belu Ugo belu ka Igbo na-ekwu.