> SYFFRisper Oloo: A Forced Fresh Start

Risper Oloo: A Forced Fresh Start

Death is a strange experience for those who are left behind. It is a mixture of sadness, confusion, shock and fear of the unknown bound to befall the kin of the deceased. More so, the women whose husbands die within the culture from which Risper Oloo comes.

From the day of her birth, a girl is considered less than, unqualified to inherit or own land, and a possession to be owned by another man in the case of her husband’s death. The only form of security pegged to a woman in this case seems to be belonging to a man.

Risper Oloo knows this and more too well. Having lost her husband ten years ago, she had to begin her life from ground zero. She instantly became the sole breadwinner for her children, living off her meagre teacher salary. The piece of land her husband left for them became a point of turmoil between her and her in-laws who grabbed the land.

Figure 3: Risper reminisces her past experiences

Risper was left with only two options, to settle in her disillusionment or to secure her family’s future.

The strength of a woman, as the famous musician Shaggy sang, should never be under-estimated. Risper Oloo is testament to this lyric.

She rose to the occasion and did what she had to do to secure her family’s future. Three children had an entire future ahead of them. She was not going to be the one to deny them a strong foundation and the security they needed to become successful. Her determination saw her take the following steps:

  1. She followed the inheritance process to reclaim her husband’s land. You can learn more about the steps here: Succession steps
  2. Risper learnt that it is not a taboo for women to own land and so, she went ahead and bought land in batches and the first one was purchased in the year 2015. She later on saved cash and was able to purchase another piece. This was all to ensure that in the event that she died, her children would have a place to call home. For more details on this, check here: know your land rights
  3. She built a beautiful home for herself and her children. This was definitely not taken well by anyone in her community. In fact, the older women instructed her to accept being inherited so that she had a man to represent her in accordance with the Luo custom. The community regarded her as a stranger-an outcast! Risper was deaf to all the naysayers and went on to build her house in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. She is now a proud home-owner and certain that her children are set for a secure future.
  4. She has written a will to ensure that whatever she went through will not befall her children. You can learn about how to make a will here: Making a will

Today, Risper is a widow champion with KELIN supporting other widows in her community. She is an encouragement to many women in her community who see her as a brave woman.  After the training, she now enlightens women on their rights, and teaches them on the laws that govern them. Risper also links up the women to organizations and individuals who can offer support.

Figure 4: Risper shows us her newly constructed house