Uganda: Information on the marriage practices of the Bakenyi (AKA Mukenyi); prevalence and enforcement of widow inheritance, particularly in Kampala; state protection available to a widow who refused to marry her deceased husband's brother; relation of Sabiny tribe to Bakenyi tribe
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||24 December 2001|
|Citation / Document Symbol||UGA38278.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Uganda: Information on the marriage practices of the Bakenyi (AKA Mukenyi); prevalence and enforcement of widow inheritance, particularly in Kampala; state protection available to a widow who refused to marry her deceased husband's brother; relation of Sabiny tribe to Bakenyi tribe , 24 December 2001, UGA38278.E , available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4bebb10.html [accessed 18 October 2017]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
According to Ethnologue, the Bakenyi represent eight per cent of the population of Uganda, and live in the region between Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga in Busoga Province (1996). The Bakenyi belong to the Bantu category of tribes (Enter Uganda 11 Dec. 2001). During a telephone interview, the Director of the U.S.-Uganda Godparents Association stated that the Bakenyi were a Bantu tribe (19 Dec. 2001). The Director also claimed that all Bantu tribes practised widow inheritance, which is very common in Ugandan society (ibid.). Furthermore, a woman refusing to participate in widow inheritance would be shunned, and would face significant legal hurdles (i.e. exorbitant legal fees) in attempting to safeguard inheritance of property or custody of her children (ibid.). A woman attempting to oppose widow inheritance would have no state protection, as the practice is considered a domestic matter, similar to domestic violence (ibid.).
The Bakenyi, being Bantu, are not related to the Sabiny, who are Nilo Hamites (ibid.; Enter Uganda 11 Dec. 2001).
According to the Chair of the organization Empowering Widows in Development, widow inheritance - where a woman is forced to marry her deceased husband's brother - is widely practised in Africa, and the Bakenyi "are therefore quite likely to do so" (8 Dec. 2001). The source also stated that, although Uganda had a "reasonably woman friendly constitution, [ ...] the main problem would probably be the cost of the court case to her. And of course the social cost of being repudiated by her husband's kin can be very severe - they might try to insist in taking her children if she has any." (ibid.).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Empowering Widows in Development. 8 December 2001. Correspondence with the Chair.
Enter Uganda. 11 December 2001. "People and Culture."
Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 1996. 13th ed. Edited by Barbra F. Grimes. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics. "Uganda."
U.S.-Uganda Godparents Association. 19 December 2001. Telephone interview with the Director.
Additional Sources Consulted
Africa Confidential 1998-2001
Africa Research Bulletin 1998-2000
Four unsuccessful attempts at contacting oral sources
World News Connection (WNC)
Internet sites including:
Law and Advocacy for Women in Uganda (LAW-U)