WIDOWHOOD PRACTICE AMONG THE IGBO: A PHILOSOPHICAL APPRARISAL

Author: Agwunobi Anastesia Ekene
Department: Philosophy
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

The work examines the widowhood practices among the Igbo. Though widows form a significant proportion among female adults but much is not known about their plight. Many are of the view that women have continually endured exclusion, hence exploitation, dehumanization, hatred, humiliation, cruelty, maltreatment, suppression and oppression. These have always been seen as those which dominate and occupy the center and entire spectrum of widowhood practices in Igbo traditional culture at large and in all its ramifications. Many erudite and prolific scholars and writers have advocated that the system or practices be completely eradicated and abolished while some other critical thinkers have argued for setting aside of that which they regard as degrading and humiliating aspects. This work on perceiving the inherent difficulties and confrontations in widowhood practices, investigates the cultural, social and spiritual rationale behind widowhood practices in Igbo land and Njikoka in particular. Discovering that in Igbo cosmology, community life embraces the living and the dead, this is the greatest rationale for the widowhood practices. Widowhood practices are an integral part of the funeral rites which aim at guaranteeing the admittance of the dead into the abode of the ancestors who are believed to reincarnate into the community in the Igbo world view. Hence as this work highlights and exposes the ills and evils obtainable in modern widowhood practices, it goes a long way to show that widowhood practices, ab initio, were not intended to punish and infringe on the human rights of the widow(s). This work affirms the untold hardship that the customary denial of inheritance of property and other practices can cause the widow, but also condemns it as a denial of Igbo social identity to the widow. It seeks to appraise philosophically some elements of widowhood practices, seen in the light of solidity as a principle of sociality.

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