Young Widow dedicates Law Degree to late husband who encouraged her to study

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While, sometimes in the name of culture and tradition, it is believed that a wife should stay with her husband and take care of her family, Precious Xaba’s husband defied that belief. Instead, he encouraged his young wife to leave their marital home in Mzimkhulu to pursue a university degree.

Sadly, Precious’ husband passed away before he could see her graduate.

The 28-year-old will be graduating with a Bachelor of Laws Degree tomorrow, (20th May) during the University of Fort Hare’s 2022 May graduation. Her husband passed away in 2019 while she was in her third year of study.

Precious shared her story with UFH News. “I met my husband when I was 15, he was my first love. We got married when I was 17 and I was enrolled for a BCom Degree at the time. However, due to the belief by some of the villagers that a makoti’s (African Bride) duty is to take care of her husband and birth him many children and not to be in school, especially university, I dropped out. However, my husband went against that belief and encouraged me to go back to school and get an education.”

Precious left her husband who was an Artisan and her daughter who was three years old in Mzimkhulu and made her way to the UFH East London campus where she was enrolled for a Law Degree.  She commenced her studies in 2017.

“It was not easy being almost 500km away from my family. There were times when I wanted to drop out but my husband kept encouraging me, saying he wants his wife to become the first graduate makoti in the village, so I stayed on.”

Tragedy befell in 2019 when her husband, who had just finished building their dream home, fell ill and passed away. “He spent only four days in our new home and was admitted to hospital. I had to leave in the middle of my exams and go home. When I was at the hospital, I had a conversation with one of the Doctors where I mentioned that I felt like dropping out of university to take care of my ill husband. While lying in his death, he overheard the conversation. Unable to speak, my husband lifted his hand and signalled his disapproval with my suggestion to drop out.”

Her husband was diagnosed with a brain abscess and passed away within one week.

“After his burial, I was clad in black as a sign of mourning his death and I returned to campus to fulfil his dream for me.”

Continuing the journey without her partner who had been her pillar of strength and “go-to-person” when exams stressed her, proved to be difficult. “I shared a lot of tears and had near-collapsing moments while on campus and during my lectures.”

Sharing her pain, the Lecturers and staff at the Faculty of Law organized counselling sessions for her with the University’s Student Counselling Unit. “If it was not for the staff and Lectures at the Faculty of Law, I would never had made it. They held me through my studies and I will forever be grateful to them,” she said.

According to her, since completing her degree she has been approached by some of the makotis in her village requiring assistance to enrol at university. “I started group which I named: The Sky is the Limit, where I help them with university and NSFAS applications.”  

Precious has since worked as a paralegal and had a brief stint at a law firm where she did her articles in criminal law. She also has been to several job interviews.  She hopes to publish a book detailing how she overcame all the adversities stacked up against her.

“I was 15 when I met the life of my life, married at 17, became a widow at 25 and now I am graduating at 28.  I wore my scars as my best attire, a stunning dress made of hell fire. Dear Cophelisa (husband's nickname) I hope today you will see that I didn't quit. This degree is my inheritance from my husband and I dedicate it to him.”