I was married to my husband for 20 years. We had four children. He was a good man, but unfortunately, he fell ill during the early part of this year and died in April. Death is never easy and I had to be strong for my children and look forward to what the future held for us. I don’t know if this is practised by all tribes in Ghana, but my husband and I are from the same tribe and it’s tradition for a widow to be handed over to her late husband’s brother upon his death. It’s not as if I am expected to marry my brother-in-law, but the idea is for him to take care of his nephews and nieces and for him to be a father figure to them since their biological father is no more. So it’s more of a formality to offer some guidance to the children and just for me to reach out to him if I need any help with anything. He can also offer financial assistance if he is capable.
My children and I were handed over to my husband’s only brother. He used to be a good man and he was very respectful. That is why his actions have come as a great surprise to me. After my husband was buried, he started visiting us often. I thought it was to keep us company and not make us miss my late husband. But it was getting excessive. He will visit us and not want to go home. He will visit and go into my bedroom acting as if he wanted to look through my husband’s things. With the way he was acting, I didn’t like it so I asked him in a nice way if he could leave a little early since his children are waiting for him at home. (He has two children with two baby mamas. He isn’t married.) Then he said that by tradition I am his wife so I shouldn’t complain. He was laughing when he said it, but I didn’t laugh with him. I didn’t like where this was going.
I had a call some time later from my dad. The old man called to inform me that my brother-in-law and some elderly men from my husband’s side had come to visit him to tell him they wanted to marry me off to my late husband’s brother. My father wasn’t even expecting it. Thankfully, he refused to accept any Schnapp they brought. He instead told them I was old enough to decide these things and he will ask me. My husband’s burial was barely a month. I still wearing black. Even if I’ll marry again, it will never be with his brother. Since I refused my brother-in-law’s offer, he has become very hostile towards me. He started threatening that he will sack us from his brother’s house. Meanwhile, it is our children’s house by inheritance and I was legally married to his brother so he has no such power. One day he got very drunk and came to our house.
He entered into an argument with me for asking him to leave and he almost hit me. If not for the timely intervention of my first son, he would have hit me. Something his elder brother has never done before. After that day, I reported him to my father and he called a meeting with my late husband’s family head. My brother-in-law didn’t show up although he was summoned. I threatened to take him to court for his threats and attitude and the family has warned me not to, claiming some things are solved internally. My son has promised to face him anytime he attempts to come to our house again, but he is just 19 and I don’t want to create any problems between him and his uncle. Already, he has told me he will come and occupy the boys’ quarters with his children. We used to rent it out, but the tenant left some weeks ago and my son wants to occupy the place since he is growing and he wants to have his own space. (He shares a room with his younger brother)
I have told my brother-in-law that he cannot tell us how we will use our house and he doesn’t have any right to occupy any place in the house. He keeps saying that my days are numbered and I will soon hand over the house to him. I don’t like these threats at all. This man was not like that when my husband was alive, now look at how he is behaving. My husband’s parents are also not alive and so he doesn’t listen to anyone. He has become my nightmare. Any help on how to handle him?