Jajja is a title of respect given to an elderly person. Though Jajja does not remember exactly how old she is, conversations she had with community members puts her age between 80-85.
Jajja has lived in the community of Bajjo for over 50 years since she married at 17-20 years old. In a country where polygomy is still common, Jajja was one of the ‘lucky’ elderly women, she was the only ‘woman of the home’ as locals put it. Her husband never had a wife before and never officially brought home another woman.
According to Jajja, she doesn’t recall any instance in which her husband was violent towards her, not a single day!! In fact she noted ‘men should not abuse their wives in the disguise that their grandfathers did the same because that is not true, in fact women should no longer tolerate any form of abuse because today a woman has the same abilities and chances to accomplish anything as men do. Therefore, there is no need to tolerate abuse out of fear of survival, child custody and upbringing’
For Jajja, her worst times came after the death of her Husband. She never gave birth to a child and so according to local traditions, after the death of her husband her claim to her matrimonial land would be tenuous. At the burial of Jajja’s Husband, she finally met her step daughter whom she had known about for a long time but had never met her personally. Jajja’s Husband had had an extramarital affair about 30 years ago which resulted in the birth of his only child.
Six months after their meeting, Jajja’s step daughter returned to visit but this time, with demands. She was accompanied by Jajja’s in-laws who demanded that Jajja leave her matrimonial home and all the properties that she acquired with her husband, and return to her birth place. They believed (according to local customs) the legitimate owner of those properties should be the child of the late husband and not his widow since she never gave birth to a child. With no surviving relatives to go too, she was devastated.
We were able secure Jajja free legal representation. An interim and later on a temporary injunction were issued and as we waited for the final disposal of the case, the relatives backed right down and Jajja was able to remain in her home and living happily. It’s worth noting, neither the step daughter nor her representative ever made an appearance in court. We won the case, and Jajja remained in her home until her death late last year.