8.Apio Dorcus

DorcusApio, 65 years old, is a widow with 12 children. She lost her husband in 2011. After the death of her husband, all the large chunks of land she thought belonged to her and her children weregrabbed.  According to the village chief of Alongclan and a male role model in the community, MrTomEgor, DorcusApio has had a very difficult time since the death of her husband in 2011. She has not been cultivating her land to grow food or take care of her children.

In tears, Dorcusnarrates that she was married to her late husband in 1978 and they were living happily until death snatched away her husband. ‘My husband died in April 2011 and was buried in Ongica village, Chegere sub-county where our home is located. After his death, life has never been easy for me and my children. Before his death we used to work together and had lots of food in the granary to feed our family.’

Dorcus, her late husband, together with their 12 children used to live on the customary land that was given to the husband by his parents.

One unforgettable day, when Dorcus was still mourning her beloved husband, another disaster struck. She was told to leave the land immediately because she was accused of being a witch. Besides, the person who was given the land was dead. Four of Dorcus’ in-laws chased her off the land. She pleaded with them to lether stay so that she could look after her 12 children but her pleas fell on deaf ears.

Dorcus then reported her case to relatives, local council leaders, clan leaders and in-laws but she was not helped. They could not help her since the land was not hers and what complicated the matter was that in the Langotradition women cannot inherit customary land.  Dorcus became very desperate because, with a large family and with no land where she could grow food, life became very difficult for her.

Without anoption, Dorcus decided to return to her late father’s land with her 12 children so that she could cultivate the land and feed her children. However, her brothers also rejected her, claiming there is no land for her. However, while in total confusion and lacking help, Dorcus met one of the widows by the name of Grace Akello, who directed her to Tom Egor, the male role model in their community.  Grace first got in touch with Tom because she had also had a similar problem and she had been helped by Tom. Thereafter, Tom, also in his capacity as the village chief of Along clan, summoned both parties for the meeting to settle the matter but unfortunately the meeting did not yield any good result. Tom did not give up; he referred the case to the Community Liaison Officer (CLO), Apac Central Police Station, Sgt. Tom PatrickOgwang. Patrick was also trained as a male role model by ACFODE. The CLO and other clan leaders held a joint meeting and the land dispute between Dorcus and her in-laws was discussed and resolved. The CLO used the opportunity to sensitiseApio’s in-laws and the clan leaders to the rights of widows to inherit and own customary land which is stipulated in the Land Act of 1998 and the 1995 Constitution.

‘My in-laws realised their mistakes and also learnt that there was nowhere I could go with my 12 children. They apologisedand allowed me to start cultivating the land so that I could feed my children who are their children too.  I’m now happy again because last season, I managed to harvest foursacks of beans, sixsacks of groundnuts and foursacks of maize which I’m using  to sustain my family.’

ACFODE helped me to reclaim what belonged to me

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