Saturday, October 7

58-Year-Old Woman Marries 27-Year-Old Pregnant Lady To Bear Kids For Late Son (PHOTO)

Mrs. Mary Torkwase Antom, 58, from Tse Baraku in Kwande LGA of Benue State, is probably the happiest woman on earth. Reason: her dream to immortalise her husband and son’s names has been fulfilled, thanks to what she considers the wise decision she took after the death of both her son and husband.

A 1986 diploma holder in Catering and Hotel Management from Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, she worked as a caterer at the prestigious NICON-NOGA hotels in Abuja, between 1988 and 2001,
before resigning, to set up a booming restaurant business on Makurdi Road in Lafia.

How she lost husband and son

Formerly married to Mr. Patrick Terlumum Antom from Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State and a retiree of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture (they got wedded in 1980), the union was blessed with only one child, Thomas Awuhe Antom. Born on June 13, 1990, the boy was in SS2 when he died in 2004, from a heart-related sickness. A year later, his father, Patrick, also died.

That left the woman devastated. “Growing old is tough, but growing old without the support and company people close to you is tougher,” she told Saturday Sun . Add to that the fact she is diabetic and you begin to understand why she feels that life can never be tougher than she had seen and may climb to “toughest” if she does not do something drastic to secure not only the family name but also its property.

“I had lived a happy life with my late husband,” she explained. “We shared ideas and always kept our resources in one account. We achieved a lot during his lifetime, we had very good plans for our only son, but God took him away. To worsen matters, my husband also died. We have a lot of landed property; we equally have business establishments.”

Her worry

Mrs. Antom popularly known as ‘Hajia Mary,’ said: “My worry is, when I die, who will take over this property? My husband had, while on sick bed, warned me seriously not to allow any of his relations to benefit from the property that both of us had laboured strenuously to acquire. He was not in good terms with them before he died.”

She was in a dilemma about how to solve the problem she was confronted with when a friend told her about a pretty young unmarried lady, one Miss Juliet Muese, from Obi LGA who was on the verge of being disowned by her parents for her inability to identify the guy responsible after becoming pregnant out of wedlock. All of the three men she mentioned, one of whom is Igbo, denied ever knowing her and even threatened to arrest her with the police for trying to defame them.

Strange marriage

On learning about the incident, Mrs. Antom became determined to seek Juliet’s hand in marriage for her dead son, in keeping with Tiv tradition. She travelled to Obi, met with and held a close and lengthy discussion with members of Juliet’s family on that score. The idea was to bring her into her home with high hope that she might deliver a baby boy who would later inherit their property. With the parents of Juliet readily agreeing to the marriage proposal after the long talks, Mrs. Antom repeated the visit accompanied by some elders from her husband’s village to perform the traditional marriage rites that would formally seal the deal.

“What I did is a well-known practice in our place and culture,” she said in defence. “There are a lot of children, almost 18 per cent of them born after their father’s death. Majority of them lost their fathers before they were born, it is not a new thing, such cases are everywhere in our place.

These children answer their father’s name, some of them have even won local elections; they are grown-up people today and nobody has said anything; they have gotten their dues in our community, so my case is not an exception; all I need is a grandchild and a bona fide inheritor of my property.”

The marriage that took place in 2007 has produced two boys with the third child on the way, although it is difficult at this stage to say whether it is going to be a boy or a girl. To start with, Juliet was delivered of a baby boy on December 1 of the same year. She became pregnant again and was delivered of another baby boy in March 2011. Right now, she is three-months pregnant for her third child.

Mrs. Antom who is excited about the development told Saturday Sun that her husband and son’s names that would have gone into extinction are now going to be heard for a long time to come because they have somebody to answer to them. While the first son is named after her late son, Thomas Awuhe, the second son is named after her husband Patrick Terlumum.

“I married a wife for my late husband and son so that I can keep their names alive,” she enthused. “Their names cannot just die with them; they will grow up and inherit what we laboured for. Any other person in my shoe would have done that. I lost my husband and only son; more painful was my son who died unmarried. But I’m fulfilled that my late son now has two male children who are bearing his name. I looked at life and asked whether it was really worth it. I hope for death every day. Any time I wake up, I think about what the future holds since my husband and only son are late. They have gone leaving me alone. Their death till date is agonizing to me. But my consolation is that I have got a replacement for them.”

Happily married to a dead man

She announced that any moment from now she would commence the process of changing all the documents regarding all her property to their names. She also has a big dream for their young mother, Juliet. “She is comfortable answering my son’s name,” she said. “She wrote JAMB and I’m processing her admission to the Federal University, Lafia. Hopefully, she will start a degree programme next year; she is humble, loyal and focused.”

Mrs. Juliet Muese Antom agrees that she is comfortable answering Mrs. Antom’s son’s name. “That is God’s design for my life,” she said. “My parents were fully prepared to shame me that I got pregnant while in the secondary school.

I was very young then and could not tell exactly who among my boyfriends impregnated me. But I strongly suspected one Mark, but he denied and ran away. I was desperate without a place to go until Hajia came, so for me I’m very ok.

“I have no problem, in fact I’m doing better than those who got married to living husbands. Hajia is planning to buy a car for me next year if I secure a university admission. It is unfortunate that I never met my late husband. I only see his pictures but that is how God designed it. As you can see, I’m looking sweet and people toast me a lot, but I shun them. At the moment, I have a boyfriend who is a student at the state university, Keffi. Though Hajia does not teleguide me but I make sure she does not know when I have sex with my guy. She deserves that respect.

“My first son’s biological father denied him. My second son’s biological father who is a student at Keffi is married. He is equally responsible for this very one l’m carrying, but he cannot come and claim them. So, there is no problem. I’m good to go.”

Village head reacts

Speaking in a chat with Saturday Sun , the village head in Doma LGA, Chief Angbande Hue, said what happened is a known tradition among his people, adding that the tradition was very rampant in the 60s. He explained that since the woman went there with elderly men from her village to ask for the girl’s hand in marriage, it is traditionally genuine. Those children are accepted in that place and it has become their place of origin.

He noted that most women who usually engaged in this kind of practice had passed the age of childbearing and most have lost their husbands and male children.

“We have a lot of such cases in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states. Among the Tiv people, there is no problem with what she did. Under our tradition, even the biological father of those children cannot lay claim to them because they did not pay the bride price; it is the person who paid the bride price that is considered to be the legitimate owner.”

Lawyer agrees

Emmanuel Akur, a legal practitioner told Saturday Sun that such cases are handled in the customary court and the court looks at the custom of the tribe to take a decision. If the Tiv tradition says that the payment of bride price is a criterion for ascertaining the rightful owner of the child, so shall it be, he argued.

“I think there is no issue here,” he said. “Nobody has come to lay claim to these children. The woman, accompanied by elders of the village, paid the bride price of this girl to secure her hand in marriage. That makes it legal. So the origin of those children is not in doubt as far as customary law is concerned.”

Source: The Sun

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