One may not be directly affected but the extent that women in our society are unfairly treated is baffling.
In Nigeria, easy to shy away from discussing difficult subjects especially when one is not the one at the receiving end, all of this because of ‘our tradition’
Gender inequalities in our society runs deep than what we see on the surface especially when it comes to inheritance rights.
Yoruba culture is rich no question about that. Ours is a tradition we assume our elders know all so we leave all matters for them to resolve.
Tayo and I grew up together, she is a few years older. Her mother died during child-birth so was raised by her father. She was an only child.
Tayo was a lot hands on in the farm that I ever was. Her involvement wasn’t gender specific – she did all farm work from clearing to harvesting.
Farming in the southwest is mostly subsistence, work usually done by hand.
About 15 years ago, unfortunately Tayo’s father passed away after brief illness, he was in his early 60s.
Tayo’s uncle who moved to town long ago and seldom visit his own farm relocated to the shortly after his brother’s death. His own plot was a jungle – farmland is only worth something when it’s cultivated on.
About five years ago, after several unsuccessful attempts to secure a white-collar job with her university degree, Tayo decided to go back to the village with her son, after all she has worked the farm with her father since very little – she knew what to do and could earn living that way.
Tayo’s uncle met her at the entrance of the village mud house built by Tayo’s father that she was not welcome, that the farm belonged to his father and brother – women have no claim to inheritance.
Tayo cried and to avoid a scene left the village.
I have witnessed a few cases whereby there was no issues sharing land inheritance amongst siblings.
Rule of thumb was if there is a male child in the midst, the females without being told won’t even think about wanting any of the land share.
Tayo is a perfect Yoruba girl, she walked away from her uncle thinking her life could have been better if she were to be a boy.
Land inheritance is nothing I ever had any interest in thinking about for many reasons, however, I am aware that this is the only ‘fall back’ for millions of Yoruba today be it male or female.
For many farmers, the only inheritance they leave behind for their children usually is the farmland.
Tayo’s father worked all his life, didn’t even own a house apart from the mud house in the village and all in all his only daughter was bullied away by the uncle that should have protected her.
So I asked my father “Say if tomorrow your brothers didn’t want to see your children in the farm?”
My father without thinking replied “Would you let them?”
Just seems a bit odd leaving important issue such as female inheritance to the discretion of the elders in the family or village chief. Sometimes they do work collaboratively well to make sure everyone is happy with the outcome, however in a situation when you have a bully, how do one go about it without being seen as disrespectful to the elders?
How do we overcome the traditions that alienate half of the citizen especially with land inheritance?