Popular gossip page, Instablog9ja, an Instagram account distinguished for its use of private lives and controversial updates as fodder to stir up hypocritical Nigerians into a blood lust whenever its administrators need a boost in their numbers, might seem like the last place where you’d expect to see validation about many of the things we’ve discussed on The Sexuality Blog. But that is exactly what happened when we stumbled on this update on the blog.
Woman, 58, marries 27-yr-old lady to bear children for her late son in Benue State . . A retiree, Mary Torkwase Antom, 58, from Tse Baraku Benue State, has taken a bold step to immortalize her late husband and late son’s names by marrying a 27-year-old lady. . . She and her husband, Patrick, a retiree of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, were blessed with only one child, Thomas Awuhe, who was was in SS2 when he died in 2004. A year later, her husband also died. . . So she made the move to secure not only the family name but also its property. A friend later told her about a pretty young unmarried lady, Juliet Muese, who was on the verge of being disowned by her parents over her inability to identify the person responsible for her pregnancy. . . Mrs. Antom then sought Juliet’s hand in marriage for her dead son, in keeping with Tiv tradition. The parents of Juliet also readily agreed. “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% of them born after their father’s death. These children answer their father’s name.” The marriage that took place in 2007, has produced two boys with the third child on the way. . . “Juliet is comfortable answering my son’s name. She wrote JAMB and I’m processing her admission to the Federal University, Lafia,” she said, . . On her part, Juliet says: “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. . . 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. 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.” . . 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.
On the Sexuality Blog we’ve spoken at length about how gender and sex were two perfectly separate concepts to precolonial Nigerians, and people who were not heterosexual were accepted in those communities. In precolonial Nigerian customs (many of which have survived to this day) gender was simply a predetermined set of roles and expectations, usually attributed by sex but not limited exclusively to it. Like Mary Torkwase Antom, many women whose children and spouses died prematurely could become ‘men’ and marry women to carry on their birth lineages and keep property within the family. The patrilineal lineage of children sired by the wives of these female ‘men’, were never questioned or thrown out as illegitimate and their parents knew better to try to claim them. This changing of genders for economic reasons is well documented in pre-colonial Igbo land and it is refereshing to see it also still active in Benue state.
Perhaps this might motivate us to consider that sex and sexuality related issues are never as rigid as we like to convince ourselves.