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Sex Talk: Tough being widowed in Uganda

Some of our mothers were widowed early as their mid-thirties and have never so much looked at another man.

At least as far as we their children can testify. Society - Ugandan culture - made it in such a way that it felt totally wrong for a wife to lose her husband and still think about sex. In many ways, it is still the same case.

Look at how much hullabaloo was raised over Sheikh Nooh Muzaata Batte’s widow, Kulthum, announcing that she was remarrying, months after burying her late husband!

People seemed actually offended and surprised that she could still...you know...feel. Yet, on the other hand, a widower will be given a year, tops, before his family, and even children, start matchmaking him with possible future brides. In fact, I hardly know any man – regardless his age – who has lost his wife and remained celibate or unmarried.

It all goes back to the many misconceptions about women: that they are in marriages for the sole purpose of pleasuring their husbands; that their libidos are dependent on a man’s own level of needs; that proper etiquette demands that a woman does not appear to want the sex too much... and so on.

One Kampala widow feels ready to get back in the saddle – so to speak – but because of how prominent her late husband was, she is worried what kind of tabloid and social media mess her remarrying or even finding a companion would raise!

“I have been taking some nutritional supplements and they make me feel good and alive in all sorts of ways. I have mourned my husband for years...why is everyone making me feel like I’m crazy for thinking about remarrying? If it were me dead, I am sure my late husband – God rest his soul – would have moved on by now. But the standards for women are different,” Clare (not real name) said during a recent girls’ night out.

She has also been subjected to myths that she is jinxed for ‘causing her husband’s death; a 'jinx' that will only be broken when she remarries for a third time.

In other words, “by me trying to remarry now, I am being selfish because I will only cause another man to die prematurely in order to break my curse!”

Have you heard of similar BS in your own culture? And what a coincidence that this jinx only attacks widows! Eyeroll...

As a result, widows as young as 28 don’t know what to do, especially in cases where they have healthy libidos and enjoyed good sex lives before tragedy struck. What starts out as ‘let me first raise my young children as I figure this out’, turns into decades of involuntary celibacy and solitude.

Even attempts at courtship will be frowned upon, for ‘daring to bring another man into your dead husband’s house’. Never mind that in this day and era, chances are that the said house was a joint effort.

And never mind that had the tables been reversed and the wife was the dead one, her darling husband would certainly remarry in that very house and marital bedroom without raising any eyebrows.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Because of how complicated it is for widows to see any pink elephants at all after bereavement, there is an army of silently unhappy, stoically lonely and sexually-high- strung women soldiering on bravely to keep the rest of society happy. Sad!

We can do better; let people live fulfilling lives, as long as they are not breaking any laws of the land. Widows’ libidos, just like the widowers’ that society is always eager to find new brides, do not die with their spouses.


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