Milled Maize and Beans

by Mudondo Malta

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I am more than sixty years old. I do not know my exact age. I have been a widow for fifteen years. My deceased husband had six wives. I was the second wife. The first wife died before my husband and his brothers and cousins inherited the other four. I had had enough troubles in marriage, and I did not want any other man in my life, so I refused to be inherited. I was persecuted, told to leave the home. I had nowhere to go—my father had long passed away, and apart from that, how could I, old as I was, be welcome in my father’s compound?

Those who go back to their parents are the young ones because their people know they can remarry, and they get dowries to refund the relatives of the deceased husband. I had only one son who also passed away some years ago. His wife passed away a year later. It is claimed they died of AIDS, but I know my co-wives bewitched them.

My stepson gave the land I was cultivating to a brother of my late husband, saying he was lending out the land, and it would be returned to me later. This was some years ago. Whenever I claimed the land, I was told I did not come with any land from my father’s home when I got married, therefore I was not entitled to the land. They said if I continued disturbing them on the issue of land, I would have to be sent back to my father’s home.

I decided to approach the authorities, starting with the clan leaders. The clan leaders shared the same view as my stepson and brothers-in-law and told me a widow had no right to own land. I continued disturbing them, and after a long time, they forwarded the case to the sub county chief, and from there it was forwarded to court. The case has been in court for many years, and I do not know how long it will continue.

Life is hard, and I am growing old every day because of the type of life I lead.  I am very poor and have a limited diet and very poor living conditions. Sometimes Woman of Purpose organization helps us with some milled maize and beans.

I am now growing old with no land to cultivate. I have some grandchildren to look after—the children of my son who died. We have to go digging in other people’s gardens to get what we can to eat. My grandchildren cannot go to school because they have to dig in order to survive.

I have been told the only way for me to succeed is to employ a lawyer, but I do not have money for a lawyer. When I approached this organization called Woman of Purpose for financial assistance to employ a lawyer, they said they are not able to do so at the moment, but they would try to talk to my stepson about releasing my land to me. They have promised to discuss the matter with my stepson and my brothers-in-law, and I hope they will be able to help me.

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