Ever heard of Luanda Magere – A Luo legend who was a mighty warrior from Kano, and hailed from the Sidho clan? This unbwogable warrior was believed to have a body of hard rock; nothing could harm him. That was true until he was deceived into marrying a second wife from one of their adversaries. This marked the end of the many victories enjoyed by the Luo community. It was a woman’s fault that the mighty warrior’s secret was exposed!
This story of old seems to resonate with the silent structures and belief systems among the people of Rang’ola village in Homabay County. A people. That believe that the man as the head of the family has a right to own everything in the home, speak into all maters and make decisions independently without involving his wife. An unspoken fear, perhaps of deception informed their way of life.
Job Odongo Ouko has been through the process of watching, learning and unlearning in order to secure his family’s future. He was raised with these beliefs and faithfully applied them in his 14 year marriage to Rose.
Job watched his own father lead a polygamous lifestyle, and his grandfather in addition to having two wives, inherited the widows of his deceased relatives. He watched the children of the inherited widows lose their dignity and security as they were ruthlessly thrown out of the only place they had known as home. He also watched as the women in his community were inherited and thrown out of their land.
What else but fear could brutally arrest a man who truly loves his wife?
Knowing that death is inevitable and aware of the social norms around women in his community, Job was secretly determined to turn this around.
Worse still, he feared for his children, just in case he got any girls, because granted that if a woman bore a baby girl, she was considered to have no children and her husband considered to have no legacy.
“God forbid, I die, and my wife dies, and I only had daughters! Here, they will have no right to come and claim or inherit my property. Only the boys!” Job explained in deep remorse seemingly on behalf of his kinsmen.
As these thoughts continued to torment him, he was approached by one of his village elders and informed of his nomination to attend a training that addresses issues of social norms and how they impact on rights including inheritance rights to ensure securing the future of families. It was as though his thoughts were visible on his forehead.
Without any resistance Job signed up and this was the start of a new journey for him and his entire family.
Job’s experience in the Securing Your Family’s Future (SYFF) training by KELIN was what he refers to as “a 180 degree turn.”
He admitted that his “man in charge” attitude, was one of the most difficult attitudes he had to unlearn, because it is his default setting. With time however, he has applied himself to the task and so far, made some major adjustments to his family life.
Job’s wife, Rose confirms this change by sharing the transformation she witnesses in her husband with the KELIN team. She says with a cheeky laugh, “My husband has been involving me in every decision that he makes including the education of our children, the parcels of land he owns and has even made a step to co-register me as a fellow holder of the title deed.”
With these changes, Job admits that the fear of wives taking off with the land title and property or another man inheriting their property is one of the underlying factors that limit most husbands and fathers from making such bold moves.
His fears were put to rest when through SYFF he learnt that he and his wife are permitted to have witness to safeguard their property. This made it even easier for them to include their daughters as beneficiaries to their property, something that is unheard of in the Luo customs.
Some practical lessons from Job’s relearning experience are shared here to benefit anyone who still has doubts that this is the right move to make towards securing your family’s future:
- Writing a will is like an insurance cover that safeguards your family in the event of death of a husband, or father.
Men in the Luo culture believe that writing a will is a taboo and a bad omen in that one is inviting death. This is a beneficial practice that protects your family and contributes to harmony in the community. Follow Job’s example today – break that social norm and let’s make it great to involve our wives in more than just kitchen duties.
- Co-registration of land is a safe step. All you have to do to address your default fear is agree on who your board of trustees will be and assign them through a legal process and rest assured your property is safe and your family will be secure!
- Discussing family property is an important step in creating harmony and facing the age old fear of what the woman can do to destroy everything her husband has built. Looking at marriage as a team, husbands and wives can begin talking about this in order to secure the future of their family.
“He sees me as a helper and someone who can move with him step by step in his life. I am now valuable before his eyes.” Rose explains with deep affirmation.
Luanda Magere remains a legend to the Luo community. In some way, Job Odongo Ouko has earned himself a similar title among his own family members – his wife Rose and his children who will later learn of their father’s actions to secure their future.