n Gender and Behaviour - Widowhood practices among the Yorubas of south west Nigeria : are there differences in what women experience due to their status?

Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1596-9231



This study examined widowhood practices among the Yorubas of South West Nigeria with the aim of investigating whether there are variations in widowhood rites that women experienced based on their social status. The study employed qualitative technique to collect the primary data. A widows Association named "Love fellowship" was used as a platform for selecting the widows involved in this study. Thirty widows were purposively selected such that fifteen (15) of them were not formally educated and not involved in modern industrial labour and the remaining fifteen (15) were formally educated and were involved in modern industrial labour. Data collected were analysis using content analysis and presented thematically. The participants in this study expressed that widowhood practices is observed among the Yorubas in order to protect the woman from being harmed by the spirit of the dead husband, for the woman to prove innocence of the death of her husband and for the husband's family to ascertain if the woman had been pregnant as at the time the husband died so that they can claim responsibility and caring for the woman among reasons. It is interesting to found that though, widowhood practices is still in existence among the Yorubas, there are some factors affecting the intensity and feasibility of practicing it. These factors include the educational level and involvement of a woman in modern industrial labour. For instance, it is extremely difficult to compel a woman who is working in Banking sector and other modern bureaucratic setting to be compelled to stay at home for long period of time other than the short period she is allowed by her boss to morn the death of her husband. It is also not feasible to ask such women to wear black cloth for one year as this contradicts the dictate of her work organization. It can therefore be concluded that although widowhood practices still exists and observed by women of different social status, the intensity differs across these social status and the higher the women status, the lesser the intensity of the rites she observed. It is therefore important to empower women as these will serve as security for them against various forms of violence especially widowhood practices.

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