The chair didn’t provide much help. Someone she knew then talked to her about seeking legal advice and suggested she contacted legal aid providers. Neema took some of the money she had in the house and made the journey to their office.
A paralegal assigned to the case brought the clan together with the primary issue being how her brother’s fees would be paid now that the land wasn’t in the hands of Neema and her family.
The men in the clan made it clear during the meeting that they wouldn’t be responsible for the boy’s fees; when asked about the plot of land they said all they could agree to do would be to demolish the house but keep the plot.
“They however never tore down the house and instead proceeded to plant corn in the rest of the plot”, says Neema, who had to return to the paralegals hoping for another solution to the stalemate.
This time the paralegals took the case up a notch and came physically to the plot having realized that because the issue couldn’t be resolved within the clan and that pursuing the legal avenue would force Neema’s uncles to relinquish the land.
A run through the law and making clear the implications of their actions was enough to drill fear into the heads of the men and not long after this second meeting they released the property to the family.
They were given time to demolish the house which they did and the paralegals supervised the evaluation of the corn they had planted and Neema’s family made a monetary compensation for the planted corn.
Bernadeta Nkoronko, the paralegal that guided Neema throughout the ordeal says, “We called the neighbourhood chair and a few other witnesses and took measurements of the disputed plot and Neema’s uncle accepted a compensation of TZS 60,000. Then, we facilitated the signing of an exchange agreement and from that point the family has cultivated the land uninterrupted;
“From the onset it was clear that perceptions of male dominance were at the root of this dispute. After Neema’s father passed away her grandfather stated that no woman would be allowed to inherit the land and that position was the source of the trouble they went through.” says Nkoronko.