REVIEW: LIFE OF A WIDOW by Nkita Arao

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o you have a written or verbal will? Even more, do you know if your husband has one written? Still, are you aware of all the property you and your husband own? Have you taken some time to familiarize yourself with some basic women rights including the right to own property? Better yet, would you like to have a will in place? And, just how readily available is this kind of information. Just how accessible is legal representation for widows?

These are just a few questions that you will ask yourself as you read the life of a Widow. This is a book that dissects bereavement from a woman’s point of view within the African context. As a result, it eloquently highlights social injustices Kenyan women face in the name of cultural practices.  A career teacher and a diligent Higher Education administrator who served as registrar at Riara University, Presbyterian University of East Africa and Daystar University, this is Mrs. Arao’s second book.

Highlights on Women Empowerment

It goes without saying, that if you educate a woman you educate a Nation. As such, Women Empowerment in general is critical to transforming families and communities.  But how much more does a widow need to be empowered to think beyond the realities of her sudden change of status? Even more, how will she manage to care for her family after the untimely death of her husband?

The author firmly insists that widows need emotional healing to accept their new status, which cannot be capsuled in a time frame. Nkita says, this can only be achieved with the help of God, and by consciously choosing not to be outcasts in society. She also gives two suggestions to all women, which were life changing in her experience as a widow.

  • Women must have their own source of income.
  • Women must keep their sense of Identity.  Meaning, she needs to maintain and grow her own support system friends and colleagues outside of her husband’s circle.

Sadly, from her extensive research, most of the widows she interviewed either agreed to wife inheritance to secure a home for their children. Or got caught up in financial constraints to the point of changing the family lifestyle altogether from schools of the children, home, and leisure activities. As sickening as the thought of wife inheritance may sound, it is real and it is happening today!

So how can you & I with this reality check, empower ourselves to sustainability no matter what situation arises? Also, in the spirit of community reach, how can we support the widows around us realistically?

Realizing the African Economic Reserve

We must learn to think, talk and act. If we leave everything to our spouses or foreigners to do, we will never realize the dream of being the economic reserve of Africa.Nkita Arao

Nkita reminds us that death is inevitable. We all know that! However, we just don’t talk about it. We don’t shout loud enough about having policies that address:

  • The myths surrounding the death of a spouse-especially the male spouse.
  • Affordable legal representation and  accessibility for widows.
  • Sustainable solutions to help cope with widowhood from a National level to the community level.
  • How women can break the cycle of falling victims to dehumanizing cultures and be financially stable.

Women of Africa are described by the world Bank as, ‘African Economic Reserves.’ Meaning, with the right tools women can sustain their families and grow their businesses. The Journey through Bereavement author, highlights that the problem is not poverty, but it’s the poverty mentality that is crippling women today.

My thoughts on the life of a Widow

I love to read books like this that motivate you into action. Many however, don’t linger long enough after you are done with the book. This one, stuck with me because it is a reality check.  Clearly, at one time or another, either you will lose your husband or your husband will lose you. How do I feel about this reality? I am compelled to live my best life today being grateful for what I have. Secondly, after this read I can’t help but look beyond my world and be more pro active.

There are plenty of ways you and I can come together to change the narrative of our widowed sisters & mums out there

  1. By buying her book, we are supporting her work in sensitizing widows on how to overcome poverty through workshops.( get the book you will find more details of how thorough she intends to be.) She currently does this in Ngong area.
  2. Consciously go the extra mile to interact with widows in our communities. I have done this and to my surprise, they willingly share their experiences and are happy to talk about the best of both worlds.
  3. Let’s get the word out to lawyers, media personalities, legislators, civic leaders and whoever else you think may be in a position to cause a chain reaction on addressing widow’s plight in Kenya.

This book is first of all different, powerful and such an eye opener on so many levels. By the time you are done with it you will not only experience reading elation, but it will invoke you to question your sense of empowerment.

Let’s keep this conversation going…let us get us as empowered as can be.

Have you read any other self help book that you think others would enjoy?

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