Owukpa Women Protest Change Burial Rites

Burial

Some Idoma women from Owukpa in Ogbadibo local government area of Benue State have risen against a recent change in their culture where a woman is now buried in her husband’s house against the extant culture where such deceased wife would be taken to her father’s house for interment.

It would be recalled that controversy recently trailed the decision by Owukpa elders and leaders to bend the extant culture, as a woman whose corpse was reportedly buried in her father’s house on her family’s insistence despite the new culture was later exhumed by some vigilantes mobilised by the traditional ruler, the Onomo of Owukpa, Chief Emmanuel Odeh.

The development further angered a section of Owukpa who protested to the traditional ruler of Idoma Land, Och'Idoma, Agabaidu Elias Ikoyi Obekpa in Otukpo Benue State. Their argument is that the extant tradition must not be tampered with, and as such, women must continue to be buried in their husband’s family homes.

According to a woman leader, Maria Adoyi, ‘’ this can’t happen during our time. We can’t just wake up at the middle of the night to change a known tradition whose roots can only be traced to our forefathers. Women must not allow this to happen, not in our time. The repercussion is grievous.’’

On the contrary, some women group who embarked on a solidarity march to the palace of the Onomo of Owukpa in Ukwo-centre said they were not comfortable with the burial tradition, saying the tradition was putting their womanhood to question.

Speaking on behalf of the women, their leader simply identified as Ogwa said, ‘’These women have decided to launch a major campaign against what they tagged ‘patriarchal dominance’ that has characterised the Idoma nation. Our agitation shows that we have seen reasons beyond what the Idoma men can see and we support the need to bend the old tradition of women burial that we now consider ominous, barbaric and unsophisticated, hence we are calling on the entire Idoma nation to revisit the old tradition of burial where a deceased woman is taken to her father’s house for burial.

‘’We maintain that such tradition has put the traditional oath of marriage to question. It is only a display of dominance by the masculine gender over the Idoma women. Our point is that the Idoma marriage tradition is in agreement with the universal institution of marriage, which maintains the interminable union of two different genders, so why should the relationship end during burial? Why must corpses of women be taken away from the home they contributed in building?’’ they asked.

But confirming the disagreement, the Onomo of Owukpa, Chief Emmanuel Odeh, told reporters that some women from Ehaje in Owukpa protested to his palace and he was also later summoned by the Oche’ Idoma, over the issue. He, however, declined to speak further on the issue pending the outcome of the meeting he had earlier scheduled to have with Owukpa sons and daughters slated for September 10th, 2016.