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Published:September 16th, 2011 16:20 EST
Forced to be Widows in Kenya

Forced to be Widows in Kenya

By Sophie Akinyi

There is a popular saying that you never know how it feels till it gets to you. Death still remains one of the most painful things on earth. Imagine losing someone you have known for a better part of your life; you literally lose a part of you. Women in Kenya are finding themselves widowed at early ages; something that leaves a sorry state. This is mostly due to dangerous lifestyles that they have adopted. Alcoholism and irresponsible s(e)xual behavior top the list.

Recently a total of twenty nine people died in Nyandarua and Ruiru towns after consuming an alcoholic drink branded `Yokozuna`. Several others have also lost their eye sight to the deadly drink. It is funny how the drink got its way on the shelves without passing through Kenya Bureau of Standards; a body that ensures all goods are of the right quality and quantity. Probably the person behind `Yokozuna` decided to play with the mentality of those who drink by naming it after a former World Wide Wrestler Yokozuna famed for stamina.

Women who are left widows are forced to adopt new ways of coping with their not so interesting lives. I sought to find out how they spend their days and at some point I almost broke into tears but had to keep a brave face since I was on assignment. My first stop over led me to Kibera slums where I met one lady who could only identify herself as Martha. The 30 year old mother of five living in an iron sheet shark relayed to me her woes. From her eyes, it was pretty obvious she had lost hope of living; something she confirmed later on. Her kids remain her source of strength whenever she is overwhelmed by circumstances.

Martha lost her husband to a lethal brew that was being sold at ten shillings. It was five years ago and the pain was still as fresh as yesterday. She took me through her daily routine which made me realize her life was marred by hardships. She did not go to school, something that made it hard for her to secure a decent job. Many a times she wakes up early to go to the leafy suburbs that surround her home. This is to look for odd jobs like washing clothes, cleaning utensils and compounds. Normally the payment goes up to about 200 shillings on the higher side. She is forced to plan for that money appropriately. Her only consolation is that her kids are still in primary school which is free. Her money therefore goes to feeding and clothing her six man family.

When night falls for this young woman, the reality checks in. That is the time she greatly feels deprived off her needs as a woman. It is only normal to understand her as she is only human. However hard she tries to withstand the temptation of being with another man, more often than not she falls prey. At around 9:00 PM when all her kids are asleep, men come tapping on her door.

Any resistance from her side would mean louder knocking which in turn might wake her kids. So she succumbs and leaves with them to a lodging. She is quick to say she still respects her husband hence she can`t bring men to her house. According to Martha the offer is always better as she gets paid a few more hundred.

Looking at her speak, one can easily identify that she is not happy with the turn her life has taken. She is quite embarrassed of her night life since she spends it selling her wares in the market of condensation. She informs me of how people disrespect her and she feels she has lost her worth on earth. She is most saddened by the fact that her husband never died a natural death. She is optimistic she will come out of the situation before her kids learn about it.

This is just the life of one widow; what about the other Kenyan widows? Men should watch their behavior and take charge of their lives instead of letting things like alcohol and immorality take charge.