Omugwo is an Igbo word for care- giving to a woman who has just put to bed a baby.
I did the piece on issues with Omugwo after some discussions about negative attitudes from either a mother or a mother-in-law, when they go to give care to a new mother. When another opportunity to talk about Omugwo arose, it turned out not to be business as usual. This time around, a man was protesting that men are usually left unattended to each time their wives went to do Omugwo, either for their sons or daughters.
See how three men expressed their opinions about the issue as it affects men.
Dennis said: “My dad did not find my mother’s Omugwo runs easy at all. It became bad that after an initial six weeks of being with my oldest sister in Benin doing Omugwo, she barely stayed for another one week when the call for another Omugwo came from my brother. My dad initially said no, but had to allow her after my brother insisted and even accused my mother of being biased against his wife. He felt that since my mother did it for my sister, she should also be there for him. So off my mother went to Asaba. The two weeks she was away was like two years. My dad complained of not being given food at the right time and many other excuses. My younger brother and I did our best to help out but he wanted his wife back. On her return, my father just sat his wife down and read the riot act to her, “Henceforth, no Omugwo beyond one week for you, because I also have to be cared for. Let your children know that you have a husband who needs your care and warmth first before any other thing.” Now that I have my own family, I also stopped once and pondered how life would be if my own wife decides to leave me at home and go for one Omugwo for so long.”
Ejiofor: “I would not mind my wife going for Omugwo if it’s the first time. It will only be wise that the mother teaches her daughter or her daughter-in-law what to do and how to bring in a balance into it. A situation where the woman is going for Omugwo the second or third time and staying so long as if the new mother does not know what to do is the aspect I don’t like. The women actually take the opportunity of being away, not minding how their husbands fair during these periods. Consider it, it is not fair for women to just stay away from their husbands for so long, with the excuse of nursing a new mother.”
Felix: “Osofia saw the danger of jumping off to go for Omugwo. Well, his adventure proved how hard the mothers work to care for a new mother. But I think they should always remember that their own husbands are back at home too. The difficult ones are those who go abroad for Omugwo. In fact they should be given a time frame so that they don’t go and think they have the license to stay for as long as one year. If care is not taken, some of the women even want to be there to nurse like two children before they remember home. How do they want the men to cope for that long period alone? As for me, my father is aging and needs his wife’s care and support so, Omugwo for anybody at that must not extend a week and she knows so.”
What are your views on this?