Interrogating obnoxious widowhood practices and the scapegoating of womenfolk: Uche Ama-Abriel’s A Past Came Calling as Paradigm
There is no gainsaying the fact that many cultures in Africa are imbued with one form of prejudice or the other against women. Widowhood practices which encapsulate the rites performed for a woman after the death of her husband as enshrined in the different cultures of Africa are among the prevailing prejudices that have consistently impinged on the dignity and rights of womenfolk. Whereas the concept of widowhood essentially emphasizes the state of being a widow or widower, in most cultures in Africa, widowhood practices have become the exclusive preserve for widows, with associated elaborate and often gruesome guiding regulations, and not for widowers for whom little or no mourning rites are prescribed. This unfortunate trend does not only dehumanize and subjugate women to untold and unimaginable predicaments, but also institutionalizes their plights in our various cultures, thus marking them out as both socially and culturally endangered species. Through qualitative research approach and critical textual analysis, therefore, the study interrogates widowhood practices and the scapegoating of womenfolk in various Nigerian cultures, using Uche Ama-Abriel’s A Past Came Calling as Paradigm; and highlights the various dimensions of dehumanization and scapegoating to which women are subjected as a result of obnoxious widowhood practices. Hence, clutching tenaciously onto obnoxious widowhood practices which impede than facilitate meaningful rehabilitation of widows in our society and consistently portray us in a bad light is utterly unacceptable. The study is essentially envisioned as a timely clarion call for proper reorientation of the society’s psyche on the obnoxious widowhood practices, at a time when the commitment of all sundry is diligently employed in galvanizing and engendering not only ethical and political, but also socio-cultural transformation in the nation. This reorientation of psyche, if properly imbibed, will not only engender the auspicious wellbeing of widows in their rehabilitation as individual members of the society, but also the wellbeing of the society at large, and the advancing of its development.
Copyright is held by Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA).