“The storm has passed but the journey continues”

When justice prevails it manifests itself in confidence, contentment and delight. Asteria Lucas (left), whose husband died several years ago wears a smile as she thanks Bernadeta Nkoronko (right), a paralegal in Kakonko who extended legal aid to her family, thus successfully reclaiming farmland she lost to her in-laws following her husband’s death in the village of Kasuga in Kakonko, Kigoma.




In the village of Kasuga in rural Kakonko District in Kigoma a clash over land ownership popped its ugly head in the Lucas clan and threatened to drive a wedge among clan members.

Neema Lucas says when her father passed away his brother and other men in the clan assumed ownership of two acres of land that he left behind even though he also had a wife and children who would normally inherit the property outright.

“When my father died in 2005 he left this plot of land here as well as others in Tabora. Not worried about anything ever happening to this property.  I went about my business but after a while when I returned, I found a house standing here and when I asked my uncles, the response I got was that, the plot wasn’t my late father’s property, and that because he was no longer alive, it was then formally theirs”, narrates Neema.

This retort would mark the beginning of a tussle in the clan over who had the right over the land. Her next stop was at the village chair’s office because the most urgent concern at the time was where to find school fees for her younger brother and the family had considered selling part of the plot to meet the need.




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.




Neema says after receiving paralegal services which helped to take back her family’s land, they decided to plant corn which they have harvested and put it on sell so as to pay for her brother’s fees and kept some for next season.

She adds that even though having their land back has been great help to her family there is still some way to go especially because her brother has a few more years of school to get through.

“The storm has passed but the journey continues”, Neema reiterates.

This was a family on the brink of despair but the fact that there was a place to run to for justice they never gave up. Neema is an enlightened young woman whose boldness allowed her to take the driver’s seat and lead her almost defenseless family on the journey towards fairness.

Despite the ups and downs they encountered along the way they finally reached destination justice and today the disputed land that her father owned is safe in their hands.

From this point onwards their efforts to thwart poverty continue with the knowledge that readily-available legal aid provided to them brought justice home.