Caution life-threatening danger: This parcel is not for sale.

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Hello and welcome to Niochi’s blog. You surely understood it, making you feel at home everywhere in Africa also means learning about our realities. And the inscription “This plot is not for sale” is a warning to potential buyers.

On every street corner, in every neighborhood and house, there is a fascinating, disturbing and bewildering story just waiting to be told. But not in the usual way. Let me warn you though, the story here is beautiful before it is cruel.

When you don’t want to waste the reader’s time, you get right to the point. So we leave it to you to score. That’s the goal!!!!!!! WOOOoooooohhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! (Laughter).

At the end of reading this post, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were shocked. I understand your shock, because these stories are not common. Welcome to Congo And after reading doesn’t hold back, give your impressions as comments.

This parcel is not for sale = Wars of Succession

If you are passing through the Congo and you see a big sign on a wall saying “This plot is not for sale”, just tell yourself that the real owner of the plot is no longer alive. This is the beginning, the middle or the end of a war of family succession.

That’s right! When the family has not found a consensus on the main heir, very often, one party tries to sell the plot, while the other party plays the resistance fighter. It is at this moment that you understand better the text of “Toto tire Nama” in Mamadou and Bineta de André Davesne.

Eza likambo ya mabélé, bato ba kufaka na yango. Taken from the Lingala which means in French C’est une histoire de terre, les gens meurent pour ça “.

Don’t be surprised to see a mother being kicked out with her children by her husband’s family following the death of her husband. It is not uncommon to see brothers and sisters fighting over a piece of land because they are not the same Mother. Similarly, many families break up because they do not agree on the occupation of a home left by a relative.

While the death of the true owner remains the common thread in disputes over plots displaying the phrase “this plot is not for sale”, the nature of the disputes is plural. I have of course wanted to share with you a few cases.

You will forgive me for not dwelling on details. I hope you will agree with me on the need to respect as much as possible the anonymity of the different families.

Case study 1: the parcel is not for sale, but sold

In Brazzaville, a church bought the plot for its place of worship from a family. More than 4 years later, the church receives a note from the justice, intimating the order to vacate the plot within 48 hours. Imbroglio total within the church for a purchase that was nevertheless made in all legality. What’s going on?

The family of the owner of the plot had carried out the sale operation without involving the children of the deceased. The judicial police are now at work and are closing the church within the time limit. The church faces a terrible dilemma. Either ask for a refund from the family (whose payment terms will not live up to expectations) or acquire the plot for a second time. In the meantime, the next day the wall already read, “this plot is not for sale”.

But why do families split up for a plot of land when family law is supposed to frame the succession?

This question is a very difficult question to answer, it is simply not acceptable for the family to take over plots of land at the expense of the legitimate wife and children of the deceased say certain things in tongues.

I have the misfortune to tell you today that the study of the various shortcomings in family law in many African countries is not as easy a task as appearances would lead one to believe, according to Nicole Claire NDOKO, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law in Yaoundé.

In order to better understand this issue, the question should first be answered.

What is the family in Africa?

African legislators have generally opted for the Western conception of the family. Thus, when it comes to imposing rights and obligations whose failure is likely to result in punishment, the family in the very narrow sense, i.e. spouses and their children, is ignored. This constitutes a real “forcing” of reality.

In Africa, the family refers to a lineage, a social group or a clan. It can also refer to nuclear, i.e. “the group constituted by the household and the children living in the same household on the same budget”. The African conception of the household is not consistent with that of Western culture.

You can imagine the number of children who do not grow up in the household of their parents of origin. Hence, the question before any debate: Which family law is it? The applicable law or the law applied? The law received or the indigenous law? Custom or written law?

This question of the sources of law in Africa is far from having a definitive answer, yet it is fundamental. Benja Merline is given the opportunity to finally use his notions of rights for the first time in real life. (Laughter)

Let us remember, however, that in Africa, kinship relationships are not only of nature but of culture.

Case study 2: 1 deceased person for every 3 women and 8 children in total

2019, a friend loses his father’s little brother. He had eight children during his lifetime with three wives. One child with the first, two with the second and 5 with the third. He left 5 plots of land to his credit and unfortunately his sudden death did not allow him to make a will for the division of property.

Separated from his first two wives, the gentleman died while living with the third wife. What the three wives had in common was that no one had to enter into a formal marriage with the deceased.

Among the 5 plots, each woman was given one plot. So it was a question of sharing the two remaining plots. Strangely enough, the third woman claims to own these two plots by arrangement with her husband while she was alive. Oddly enough, this claim is not supported by any tangible evidence.

In order to limit the damage, the husband’s family was willing to give this woman an additional plot in addition to the one she already occupied. After all, in addition to being the last wife of the deceased, she had more children than the others.

But the woman was desperate to tear up the third plot to satisfy her appetite. Unfortunately, the husband’s family was not prepared to accept this demand too much. The wife had to file a complaint against the husband’s family. Will she be right according to the court decision? Only time will tell. For the moment, we let you wear the judge’s jacket and give your opinion as a comment.

In the meantime, if you are passing by the parcel in dispute you can read in large print “This parcel is not for sale”.

Would the reflex of writing a will be a solution to avoid succession conflicts?

2005, I find myself on holiday in my native village. Bad news, an old man in the neighborhood had just died. Leaving behind him, a wife, five children and three well-built plots of land. After the funeral, the family council meets to divide up the deceased’s property.

Like a well-informed person, the latter had taken the care to leave a will accompanied by an audio cassette in which he clearly indicated that his property belonged to his children. In the end, the opposite happened. The family was left with everything and the children were left with nothing.

And yes! Write and tell what you want while you’re alive, the last word goes to the family.

As you may have understood, while in some cases, disputes over the inheritance of plots of land are due to the absence of a will designating the heir or heirs, for others, the existence of this legal inheritance document simply has no effect on the family unless the family willingly agrees to respect the wishes of the deceased.

If the will exists, why not file a lawsuit?

Accepting the decision of the family council without resistance is a matter of survival. Otherwise, the reckless also get special treatment.

Here! In one of Brazzaville’s working-class neighborhoods, a woman was able to impose herself by staying to live with her children in her late husband’s plot after his death, despite the will of the deceased’s family to take her away from there. She was within her rights, after all, since she was married under a common property regime.

This resistance was overtaken by the African reality. She started counting the disappearance of a child every year. Out of 6 children, she found herself with 2 in 4 years of living in the plot. Was she wrong to resist? Should she continue to resist or abandon the plot?

This leads us to question whether witchcraft would be stronger than the law in Africa on questions of inheritance?

If you are victims or observers of this reality, do not hesitate to share your testimony with us.

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Written by Elwin Gomo and curated by Prince Youlou

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