Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Benson Egbe: When Culture Becomes A Backdoor for Wickedness.



Benson Egbe hailed from Bachuo Ntai and got married to an African American. After living in the US for some time, he went home to visit, he returned very ill, and he later died. He was married for 29 years but without kids. His family wants his corpse to be buried at home, but his wife has rejected the idea. His family then launched a sinister campaign claiming that the marriage was a Doki marriage (marriage for papers or marriage for hire), so the wife is not entitled to his inheritance. Some family and friends think that the wife is desecrating their culture by refusing his corpse to be taken home while others think the family should leave the wife alone. What do you think? Are they maltreating the widow, or are they protecting the culture? It has become a common practice for people to fight and prevent a man’s widow from inheriting the husband’s property with the pretext that they are protecting the culture.  Because of the importance and frequency of dilemmas like this, this lesson will unravel the complexities and then state a clear position looking at the Manyu culture, American law, and biblical exposition. 
Many will look at it awkward talking about the dead while the corpse is still down. Well, the English says “strike the iron when it is hot.” If we do not talk about it now, after he is buried, they will say, “you do not talk about the dead,” so finally we will never talk about it. Because it is a recurrent practice, I will talk about it now. Therefore, suffer it for now as I plead for your indulgence. Our mothers fought the regressive colonial myrmidons and copycats in the name of Christianity, and today their daughters still have to fight the same fight perpetrated this time by their own sons and men who should defend them. The Manyu culture has always shown the man protecting the woman until the advent of Christianity which mistakenly taught that the man was superior to the woman; thus, setting the stage for male chauvinism and women repression. Benson Egbe died in Lubock last week and all of a sudden, the relatives are fighting his widow in the name of culture. They argue that it was not a genuine marriage and some intimated that she precipitated his death. Is culture a backdoor for wickedness or a front door for philanthropy?
Benson Egbe traveled to Bachuo Ntai (his birthplace) to visit his mother, family and friends. He came back very sick, and I was informed that he was sick and needed prayers. They alleged that he was either poisoned or bewitched. I prayed for him, hoping that God the healer will intervene. Unfortunately, and fortunately, God called him home to redeem him from his afflictions.
It was the tradition of Ekpe to beat a man’s widow. If the family did not want her to be beaten, they gave Ekpe more food. Ekpe then took it as a technique to extort more food and drinks for their nocturnal revelry from widows. Isn't there a better and civilized way to ask for more food and drinks?The poorer widows took merciless beatings while their richer counterparts were exempted because their riches paid for their peace. This will not last forever as women resisted the practice, and finally it is dying away. Why should a wailing woman be asked to give drinks and food to hyperopic men and boys who think that the woman is the cause of the man’s death? The worst one was if the couple did not have children. Do they know what the woman has gone through just putting up with the man during and after his illness?
It is always mind boggling why when a couple does not have children, it is only the woman who is accused of infertility or sterility. Why can’t it be the man? If it was a western man, he will exonerate the woman by telling people that he is the cause of their infertility, but the African man will die with it because of the stigma that goes with male impotency. While the African woman would not stay in a home if the man told her that he cannot conceive children, the Western woman would because some of them even make up their minds never to have kids. That is why you will see an African man and a western woman with no children and there is no drama. So when he dies, these greedy men and women will jump out from their hiding bushes to tell her that she did not have a child with the man, so she cannot inherit his property. That is not our culture! Furthermore, marriage is not for children, neither do children in a home established authenticity of matrimony.
The African culture is a culture where the man protected the woman. That is why the man cleared the forest and did hunting; exposing his life in danger, just so he can provide for the wife and family. The man walked in front while the woman walked a few steps behind just so if there was danger, he will fend it off or die while the wife will survive and run away. That is the culture I knew as I grew up and not this one where they torment widows. Isn’t the widow a woman to be protected?
Benson (may his soul rest in peace) was married with his wife for 29 years. I mean 29 years and not 29 days. How can a man be married to a woman for 29 years and we are still talking about “foreign wife?" She might be a foreign woman to you, but she was not to him. The Africans who contend that she should release the corpse say that they want to bring closure to the family. The Manyu culture where I come from does not worship the dead. Very few people; even those in the village visit the graves of their parents and relatives. The only case was that of Mmgbokondem (copycat statue of the defunct).
Instead, it is the western woman who needs the corpse more as they visit the graves constantly.  Doesn't she need to visit her husband's grave too? Should she be traveling to Africa each time she desires talking to the man she was once married for 29 years?
Furthermore, if Benson did not will that he should be buried in Africa, why do the living do so desire? If Benson’s family does not want to have closure, it simply means they do not want closure because I don't know what they would have done if Benson died in the sea or through a plane crash, and they could not find his body. Wouldn't they have closure? What if Benson simply vanished in thin air and no one knew his whereabouts? Wouldn't the family have closure? Therefore, they should assist the widow rather than try to demonize her; it is wrong!
Why do people, especially Africans always fight for the corpse instead of a living person? I first heard this story last year when the guy fell sick. I was informed that he went home very healthy, came back very sick, and that they suspected poison or some sort of witchcraft. The Bachuo people did not want Benson, so they killed him with either poison or witchcraft. He has gone and left them not only Bachuo, but he has left them Cameroon, America and world. Let them carry the world on their heads or even eat it. Why do they want his corpse now? We don't want to see people while they are alive, but we fight for their corpses when they die. Fie for shame! I hope that the Ntenako people who take poisoning people as an art are reading me.
Let those who wanted the earth take it; Benson has left them with it. He does not even want the six inches of land in Bachuo. They should take it!When their day to die reaches, they should not die; they should send it to him. Let the good people support his widow and family. He has left a wife who is now a widow. 
If you cannot learn anything from the Americans, please learn this. When an American child leaves home and finds the American dream, he or she comes back home to his or her parent’s house to eat and drink with family. The African is different. Nowadays, people go home and do not even drink or eat in their own relatives’ houses for fear they poison them. Some who do not use the witchcraft means, use armed robbers. They pay them to aggress their Bushfaller brother or sister, so that together with the armed robber they will share the booty. That is how many have gone home and came back very sick, up to dying. Others who went home, came back; theretofore, nothing has ever worked for them anymore.
Therefore, if we want to promote the culture, we must condemn these behaviors and encourage our people to prepare apparent heirs. The African society is perhaps the only society that does not prepare the children to replace their parents. There must be a clear cut position by education and warning all these people to refrain from poisoning those who come to visit at home. That is what destroys the culture and not a widow who refuses her husband's corpse, (the same husband they hated) so that they can make a cultural grandstanding with it. That is the way they should fight. Harassing this woman for the corpse of the husband is Grade A wickedness; it should not be encouraged under any pretext.
That woman has done the right thing. I am not sure if the man was alive, he will allow people to address the wife the way some do now. Please refrain from maltreating people's widows. Was it the woman who caused his illness? Was Benson living with any family member before he died? Can you or any other person who loves him now so much tell us how much you helped with his medical and living expenses? Until such time, please just cry Benson and leave the corpse to the wife.
The woman should even issue restraining orders to prevent some of you from coming to the wake and funeral services. Do not forget that for some of you with daughters, the same way you treat other people's daughters, the same measure will be meted to you. Some even argue that the woman by virtue of being a wife is the reason she is inheriting Benson’s property.
I really doubt that! Do you remember Anna Nicole Smith? If the man has a valid legal will, the wife will not inherit it except if she has joint tenancy or ownership. If a man bought a house before the woman came, and he decides to give it away, the law does not prevent it. If he died without a will, which is when the automatic beneficiary kicks in since she is the spouse. There are many such court cases going on and which have gone on and the spouse has come out empty. If before the woman got married she signed a prenuptial, she may not inherit anything if that prenuptial had escheated her from the entire will.
By the way, the intimation that the marriage was not what it was supposed to be is not founded. If Benson did not want the woman because his marriage was a marriage for hire or Doki marriage, he would have changed the situation way before he even died. He would not have left it for 29 years. For 29 years, Benson was married in letter even if not in spirit. These family members would have fought to get all transferred to his mother when he was alive with his blessings if the marriage was not what it was. Why is it only when the man dies that the Uberrima Fides of the marriage is questioned?
There is a clear caveat in the Bible “you shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child (Ex 22:22).”There is a divine curse on those who afflict or even pervert the judgment of the widows (Deut 27:19). Paul reiterated the same command to honor true widows (Titus 5:3) that perhaps sets the variance against “Happy Widows” or “veuves joyeuse.” To James that is the true religion to visit the widows in their afflictions (James 1:27). Therefore, anyone mistreating a man’s widow does not love God and is against the ethos of Christianity. It is time for the Manyu people to protect widows rather than torment them in the name of preserving the culture. In Benson Egbe’s case, there was not even the single family member to visit him. They pretended to call from a distant and now that he is dead, their love for his corpse overfills the glass. Shouldn’t we show love for people when they are alive? What is this love that is only strong when someone dies? Do not torment a man’s widow in the name of culture. That is not even our African, talk less of Manyu culture.
Until then, please leave Benson Egbe’s widow alone!

St Arrey of Ntenako
“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). "It is not how well you know a person; it is how well you treat them that they will live longer and happier with you." Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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