When land rocked a marriage

At Kasumulu in Kyela, Mbeya Furaha Mwambwiga shows her land that was sold without her knowledge or consent resulting in a long, painful legal battle to recover it. Since getting the land back, she has grown cash crops and even progressed to open an eatery in the village.




Furaha Mwambwiga, a married woman who lives with her husband and children in the village of Kasumulu at the Tanzania-Malawi border in Kyela district, Mbeya region discovered that a plot of land on which the family farmed had been sold unbeknownst to her when she found a man working the land.

She is one beneficiary of LSF’s Access to Justice Programwhose fight for justice was caused by the closest person to her.

Her husband found a buyer and sold the land in 2016 and upon discovering the illicit sale and identifying the buyer she contacted him and asked for the land back but he refused.

She reported both her husband and the buyer to the village executive, but still to no avail. When the case was escalated to the land tribunal, she was informed that she couldn’t have the land back, because she had signed the sale agreement along with her husband, thus giving the buyer the right to the land.

“I was terribly hurt by that decision because all along, I had made it clear that, I never signed the agreement. The ruling added more pain when I was also told, there was no marriage certificate between my husband and I, and as a matter of fact I wasn’t his wife,” Furaha told us.

Furaha moved to appeal the decision.  Pending the appeal, Furaha reported the decision of the land tribunal to her local councilor who immediately sent her to the local paralegal office.



She narrated the entire ordeal to Hamza Hemed, the paralegal, and then asked for help in lodging an appeal. He advised engaging the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) in Mbeya. Upon examining her case the lawyer informed her that handling her case would incur upon her quite a steep fee which she told him she didn’t have.

“He asked me, if I had one million Shillings, but I told him frankly, I couldn’t afford such a fee, the most I could pay was five hundred thousand Shillings only. At that point, he lowered the fee to seven hundred thousand Shillings, which forced me to borrow extra money to get to. The appeal was then lodged and a summons was issued to my husband, the buyer and their witnesses”, Furaha explained.

The case was then moved to the High Court.   In the course of the case, the agreement was reviewed further and it was discovered that Furaha’s signature was forged, thus an arrest warrant was issued for her husband and everyone involved in the sale deal. Two days later the culprits were arrested ready to be arraigned in court and Furaha was determined to see justice run its course.

In court her husband admitted to the forgery while the others denied involvement. With the possibility of prison facing her husband and his accomplices, he turned around and begged her for forgiveness, even so much as asking several respected individuals to plead for him.

Down the line, the other accused men also came round, and they too realized that prison was the only end, and they also admitted to the crime and begged her for mercy. The prosecutor asked Furaha what she wanted and when she made it clear that all she wanted was the land, the case closed pretty much that instant.

The offenders were then ordered to make arrangements to return the plot to her which they duly did.

Hemed told us that, under those circumstances, he sensed the need to help her protect the plot.

“I insisted upon her that, she shouldn’t accept the plot back with a mere word of mouth, but that an agreement must be signed by all involved stating clearly that, they have returned the land to her and that all along, she was the rightful owner, hence nullifying the illicit earlier agreement. I further advised her to put the plot under her ownership in a title deed. It’s comforting to see that, her life has taken a turn for the better since the end of this saga”, he said.

Furaha now is a picture of confidence and a more enlightened woman, “I’m pleased the ordeal is history today. Ever since, the land was returned to me, I have successfully cultivated on it and recently harvested 13 bags of rice, and also harvested sesame which have enabled me to afford school fees for my children and ensure there’s food in the house at all times. I have also since opened a small eatery that adds to my income daily”, she told us boldly.




Godfrey, her husband, isn’t fond of what he did and has learned an important lesson from the conflict, “I certainly made a selfish decision and I don’t feel good about it. Frankly-speaking, the help that was extended to her by the paralegal gave her overwhelming power to reclaim the land. I had misused my position as a husband and allowed the suppressive elements that still persist in our culture to override her.  Honestly, it was a bad experience for both of us”, he pointed out.

Complicated as it was, Furaha’s case points to the challenges ordinary people still face when pursuing their rights, however with determination and appropriate guidance justice can take long, but it does finally reach them.

Today, calm has returned to her home and the couple work together to build their family’s future and reduce the plight of poverty, that isn’t too far from many including in their own community in Kasumulu.