“I was ejected from my house after the death of my husband and denied access to land and other properties we acquired together,” says Mwanamvua Kibwana (35), a mother of three who lives in rural Korogwe District in Tanga as she narrates what happened to her in the aftermath of her husband’s death.
Through hard work when her husband was alive the couple generated income through which they built a decent house, bought a car, a powered-tiller and invested in a milling machine, herds of cattle, a tailoring business and other small economic activities.
However, immediately after her husband’s death in May, 2016, her in-laws, led by her late husband’s father, convened a family meeting which appointed a man named Beda Ifo in-charge of inheritance with a resolution specifying the names of beneficiaries and their shares. “The person appointed supervisor of the family’s inheritance was just my husband’s friend; they belong to the same tribe but aren’t related in any way. My father-in-law pressured the family meeting to elect Ifo supervisor because they knew how they were going to benefit and deny me my rights,” said Mwanamvua.
What followed was a spree during which her father-in-law and Ifo sold the family’s cattle and the crops they had harvested while all the time denying her access to the milling machine, powered tiller, car, land and other assets. To worsen her situation her in-laws attempted to remove her from her house while forcing her to be inherited by Ifo as his wife.
With inheritance resources at hand, the in-laws established strong connections with local executives and law enforcement personnel to make sure that their mission to deny her of her inheritance rights is accomplished at any cost.
Knowing that the final decision would be in their favour, Ifo presented the family resolution to the primary court magistrate for certification, paving way for distribution of the deceased’s property. This marked the start of a protracted tug of war pitting in-laws led by Ifo and the widow who was challenging appointment of the inheritance supervisor on her own without support. However, the primary court magistrate who was part to the syndicated-network approved Ifo as the appointed inheritance supervisor and promised to issue a certified family resolution within a few days.