The case in point is that of Fatu Said Selemani Mikoko (a widow) against Ziada Hemedi Mponda, both residents of Kiranjeranje village. A foreign company is constructing communication towers along the Dar es Salaam -Lindi road and in Kiranjeranje village they happened to lease a piece of land from ms Mikoko which she claimed to own.
However, Ms Mponda who lives about 300 metres from the leased land contested Mikoko's ownership and claimed that she should instead be paid by the company because she is the rightful owner of the land.
The dispute was brought before the village government and by referring to traditional boundaries and testimony of village elders, it was decided that the piece of land actually belongs to Mikoko.
The conflict was thus resolved. "Here the issue is not so much about the money involved, rather it is a sign that women have now started to stand up for their land rights," commented Malejela.
So in Sawala village and indeed in many villages in Mufindi Districts a woman has no right to own anything and she has no say on anything. And here is what the husband owns and has exclusive rights to decide what to do with the property without even consulting the mother of the house!
The man owns land…yes… all the family farms belong to the husband. He can decide anything- sell them or rent them. All cash crops belong to the husband and he is free to make unilateral decisions on how to spend the money raised from sale of the crops. The woman might have worked on the farms in terms of planting, weeding and even harvesting and storing the crops but her services would end there. No rewards! The house also belongs to the husband. Of course the wife might have toiled a lot when construction was going on but that doesn’t count.
Should the family own cows, a shop, a bicycle, a motorcycle, a radio set (or TV), these are owned by the husband and he has the final decision on what should be done to them. The same is the case if they have a motor vehicle, a milling machine, furniture and a sewing machine. The husband would be the owner of these items and would decide what to do with them and the wife would not raise her voice. The husband has the right to own everything and the wife owns nothing….nothing at all!
“Generally women don’t own land; families believe that men are the rightful owners of land although women may work on that land. This system is accepted by almost all villagers across the district,” says Cleva Kapuna, Sawala Village Chairman.