By Fai Cassian Ndi
In his welcome speech, the mayor of Wum Council Dighabong Anthony expressed thanks and gratitude to the Canadian High Commission (the Canadian Fund for Local Initiative) as well as the Chief Executive Officer of Modern Advocacy Humanitarian Social and Rehabilitation Association-MAHSRA for the timely support. He said some of these practices and traditional rites are a handicap to development. He also expressed the desire of his council to twin with some councils in Canada given both Cameroon and Canada share many things in common. He frowned that some practices do not respect the dignity of women especially widows and promised that the council will work in collaboration with the project to make sure that some the obnoxious practices that do not respect the dignity of women is abolished.
|Widows in solidarity|
Though with limited resources, Dr. Kelly reiterated that MAHSRA aspires to interweave the well-being of women in order to boost their contribution towards poverty eradication and rural development as a whole. He revealed that following a study, indicators are rife at that the targeted communities of Esu, Weh and Wum with recorded a significant 60% decrease in growth and development rate due to the fact that widows and their children (orphans) are overtly or tactically denied due resources that would have enhanced their well-being. Majority he added are exposed to abject poverty due to both the matrilineal and patrilineal widow inheritance rites. “Besides the hereditary factor to the widow which inflicts chronic poverty on the surviving spouse and the children, there is also a psychological factor that strongly degrades the health and social stability of the widow and her orphaned children”.
Some of the obnoxious practices he noted include amongst others:
- Compelling widows to undergo degrading human dignity practices with regard to the pending burial rites of her late husband’s corpse
- Compelling her to wear only one specific dress for several months and to feed through the use of a single plate, cup and spoon
- Segregating her with identifying elements on her body and prohibiting her from participating in public and external activities from home, including any religious or social gathering for long periods
- Restricting her from commercial activities for a durable time
- Compelling her to cohabit and share intimacy with the late husband’s brother which she may already consider as her own brother etc..
He extended thanks and gratitude to the traditional rulers for being part of the new way. Dr. Kelly also applauded the Canadian High Commissioner to Cameroon for the instrumental support in fostering the realization of the widowhood rites to rights initiative. This initiative he noted will not infringe on the rich traditional cultural diversity of the people of Esu, Weh and Aghem. “This is the reason why MAHSRA’s intervention within this domain is not to destroy or change any traditional customs but rather, to form a human rights merger dynamics which should enhance the well-being and development rights of all members within the community”.
On his part, the Canadian High Commissioner to Cameroon, Rene Cremonese disclosed that his country would spare no effort to support any action that enhances human rights. He emphasized that it is humanly important to protect those who cannot protect themselves. “Widows need our protection and we have to go into dialogue to make sure that widows are treated differently”. He also applauded the massive turnout of the traditional rulers and their contributions in changing lives in their communities.
The Representative of the Governor of the North West Region, Nji Joseph disclosed that a commission has been put in place to monitor and track down perpetrators of human rights abuses. Other speakers include; the Fons of Esu, Aghem and Weh.
|Canadian High Commissioner, Representative of the Governor, SDO for Menchum, DO for Wum, others|
|Cross-section of Widows|
|Traditional rulers and Notables|
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