Over the course of five days in five different locations, we met with over 250 members of the Nsongwa community. Our purpose was to listen to and record the discussions of the people in the community as they exchanged their thoughts regarding widowhood rites and how they might best be changed in the future. These ideas will form the basis of our future discussions with the community leaders and those who may choose to become advocates on behalf of the widows.
Each session began with a brief introduction to the topic of widowhood rites and rights. Sometimes, some improvisation was needed, as on the first day, when we needed to use a junked car as our backstop.
After the introduction, the participants in the workshop were divided into five groups.
Each group had a specific question related to widowhood rites
and were asked to come up
with a series of responses to share with the larger group.
Those chosen as group leaders would record the ideas of their group members for sharing later.
Each group then presented their responses to the larger group and
further points on each question were discussed and debated.
The last day of the workshops was held
at the Fon's palace, where we were
able to interview the Fon on his thoughts regarding widowhood rites.
The next steps will be to review and analyse
the wealth of information that came from
these sessions and to prepare for the next stage of discussions with the community.