“Left Behind” examines the traumatic experience of widows mostly from the South Eastern part of Nigeria, who were subjected to the mandatory observance of inhuman mourning rite. These ancient rites vary across communities; a widow could be forced to sit unclad on a floor for weeks without having a bath, drink the filthy water used to wash the corpse, shave her hair completely, and so on. The reasons given for this treatments are to prove the widow’s innocence, respect the dead or protect the living from the dead.
These practices emanate from the subjugation of women which is deeply rooted in the patriarchal culture and tradition of the Nigerian society where women are regarded as objects of rights, rather than subjects of rights. Owing to this unfavorable customary practices, most widows are maltreated, chased away by their in-laws and denied access or ownership to land and other properties that is rightfully theirs. Through Christianity, many communities have abolished inhuman mourning rites, but others are obstinate because they claim it is a tradition.
This project was supported by Magnum Foundation Fund.
Nnenna's husband died in a car accident. He was buried in front of their house.
"I was the first wife of my late husband and this is the only picture I have left to remember him. The second wife burnt all the other pictures. She had the support of the villagers because she carried out the traditional mourning rites. My refusal to do it led to my being frustrated out of my late husband's house with nothing."
"My husband’s death, left us desolate. I shaved my head and wore one black cloth for a year. It has been difficult to sustain my family but I strongly believe it is God who has been sustaining us."