Speeches for Felix King foundation

Gentlemen of the Press,

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you today as we continue our journey in finding enduring solution to one of the greatest challenges facing us as a nation and I am talking about the cultural and behavioral practices in many of our communities that discriminate against widows and other vulnerable women among us.

As a young man growing up, I have witnessed some of these practices where women are meted with all manner of reprehensible deprivations by society, especially upon the demise of their loved ones. This is not a strange phenomenon to many of us here. In our various societies, widows are denied rights to inheritance of their departed husbands’ estates; many others are forced to perform all manner of inhuman and dehumanizing acts while there are others who are made to drink waters used to wash the bodies of their departed loved ones all in the name of cultural cleansing.

It was some of these experiences that formed my resolve to add my voice and my token to what I later learnt was a growing global conversation against discriminatory widowhood practices.

Let me say that the culture and phenomenon of discrimination against widows is not peculiar to communities in Nigeria. And that was why, as a way of mobilizing voices and galvanizing action to sensitize individuals and communities in a global effort to reduce, and where possible totally eradicate such evil practices.

According former Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban ki-Moon, “Defeating all forms of discrimination will liberate us all, victim and perpetrator alike.”

It was therefore in an effort to strengthen this campaign that the United Nations set aside June 23 every year as International Widows Day.

Having made a personal commitment to invest my time and little resources in the struggle to fight some of the evil widowhood practices in our society, I, in full partnership with my wife founded the Felix King Charity Foundation to among other things:

  • Support the global campaign against evil widowhood practices with Nigeria as our focus.
  • Create some form of support platforms to heal the psychological wounds that bad widowhood practices have, and has continued to inflict on widows and other vulnerable women in our society.
  • Create some form of economic empowerment programmes to enable widows become economically independent thereby enabling them to solve personal problems and be able to train their children and be useful to themselves and society.
  • Sustain a campaign to educate, re-educate and where necessary, “uneducate” our people with the hope of freeing the entire society from the shackles of the ignorance and superstitions which form the foundations of the various forms of discriminations and maltreatments meted out on widows.

On June 23, 2016, we organized an International Widows Summit held at the Sheraton Hotels Ikeja. It was the first of its kind in Nigeria and speaker after speaker spoke of the need for society to add their voices against discrimination against widows in Nigeria.

I am on this journey because I am aware of how damaging the cultural practices and behavioral manifestations of discrimination against widows have damaged the fabrics of society, killing a lot of our women slowly and making them psychologically dehumanized. Having observed and listened to hundreds of deprived women in Nigeria, I have come to realize that it is not natural disasters that contribute most to the destruction of most societies but the failed attempt by society at healing our wounded and our own effort to even worsen the injuries.

Dealing with the pains of losing loved ones is bad enough. But we live in a society that multiplies these pains by adding physical and psychological traumas of deprivation and rejection.

My experiences have told me that organizing talk-shops and generating media content may not bring practical and enduring solution to this seriously challenging problem. Practical steps in the form of direct interventions and empowerment are what I see as critical enablers that will, among other things:

  • Create an environment of inclusion for these suffering women
  • Empower them to be independent
  • Enable them feel and experience love one more time
  • Create a healthy environment for their equally deprived children to be integrated into society through education and other enabling welfare interventions

It is for these reasons that we have enlarged the activities for the 2017 International Widows Day, to not only address issues relating to the plight of widows in the society but to also seek to identify the root causes of these discriminatory practices with a view to finding lasting solutions.

When I started the Felix King Foundation in 2016, it was a journey of faith. I had only one clear vision and that’s to make the world better for disadvantaged widows and vulnerable women than I met it and I strongly believe “every woman deserves the right to liberty and the right to succeed”. It is not a journey I can make all alone with a solitary voice and limited resources. And this is the reason we are here today for this press conference.

THE 2017  African Widows’ Summit
In commemoration of this year’s International Widows’ Day will be  hosting dignitaries from across Africa in the maiden edition of the African widows’ Summit scheduled to hold in Benin city, Edo State, come June 23rd, themed “together with the communities we can abolish widows’ maltreatment,  and we want to use the opportunity to send a clear message to society that the time has come to end all the discriminatory practices against widows. Prior to this summit we will be presenting a Private Bill to the Edo State House of Assembly  called “Abolish widows’ maltreatment in Edo state Bill” . Our strategy is to activate  this campaign  on a community by community approach : Rather than national strategy. But we believe one community won means more other communities to embrace our campaign message.

Having been convinced that we can only succeed in making very minimal impact by working alone, today, the Felix King Foundation shall be unveiling two brand ambassadors whose influence and place in society qualifies them to become advocates for the thousands of widows and vulnerable women in our society.

We are taking this route because we know that these two people, renowned celebrities in Nigeria represents voices that will speak and people will listen to and by so doing, motivate even a greater number Nigerians to embrace the call to save our women from discrimination. You may have heard the saying that “when you educate a man, you educate an individual, but when you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” But I say this today that when you discriminate against a man, you are only discriminating against an individual. But any discrimination against a woman is discrimination against an entire nation.

We are therefore appointing these ambassadors as voices of the voiceless and voices for society. It is our growing hope that as we continue on this travel, they will help us recruit other willing ambassadors and volunteers who will take the battle personal and carry it to families and communities so that we can end these practices sooner, one family at a time, one community at a time.

Our Campaign
The task before us and our ambassadors are enormous. This is because critical to the success of this project is An Abolish Widows Maltreatment Campaign for which we are seeking to collect at least 1 million signatures of willing individuals committing to join us and our ambassadors in driving home the message to end all forms of discrimination against widows.

Although the first leg of this campaign event will focus on Edo State as the first community targeted to embrace total abolishment of widows’ maltreatment, the signatories to this campaign will be collected from all parts of Africa. We are optimistic that with 1 million people voluntarily signing up to this campaign, we would have had millions of people carrying this fight to all communities. This, we are convinced, will help reach more people, enable Nigerians and Africans at large to take the campaign personal and ensure that at every point, there is a willing advocate who share the same vision and purpose of giving better life living to the disadvantaged widows/women and their dependents in our communities. That includes you protecting the rights of widows, even where and when this Foundation  and the Liberty Project ambassadors is not physically present.

I have no doubt in my mind what we are doing today will inspire the entire African content and gradually, these prejudices will start to fade away across Nigeria and Africa communities.

We have worked hard in the past one year to touch the lives of quite a reasonable number of people and  I am glad we have been able to tell our story through the  video clips of the humbling, real life encounters with some of our Mothers, Daughters and sisters that have been facing various forms of dehumanizing treatments simply because they are widowed.

We cannot show you all that we have there but in your spare time, you may watch King TV on www.felixking.org/widows/king-tv  or better get more information on our website www.felixking.org/widows to see how we are transforming lives and the difference these transformations are making.

We are convinced that your encounter with the suffering widows here will not only enable strong reportage of this challenge in our society, but also convince you to also join the millions of others who we believe will sign up to this campaign as we embark on our 1 million signatures collection process that will see to the immediate abolishment of widows maltreatment in our communities.

Thanks and God bless you all.

Felix King
Founder, Felix King Charity Foundation
May 19, 2017

Precisely on June 23, 2016 at the Lagos Sheraton Hotels, we began a journey of faith anchored on our understanding of the challenges of widowhood in an environment like Nigeria where superstitions and weak laws of inheritance have through the years conspired to make life very tough for widows in our midst.

I say it is a journey of faith because the enormity of widowhood challenges in virtually all parts of Nigeria is so much that one solitary, however passionate just may not be able to accomplish much. But we have faith. We have faith in God. We have faith in humanity and the spirit of God in us all. And with this faith, we are convinced that our little gestures will, in time, not only galvanize stronger community coalitions towards lifting widows from the pains inflicted on them by society, but will also assist in reshaping our mindset and disposition to ensure that practices in our cultures that tend to condemn widows to punishments at the demise of their husbands, are totally eradicated to enable us build a more inclusive, more justice oriented society.

In subjecting widows to hardships and disinheriting them as is the practice in most parts of the country, we are trapped by the patriarchal dogma and superstition that tend to lower the status and welfare of widows in particular and women as a whole.

But I am influenced by a statement credited to Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computers and devices where he cautioned said: “Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

This statement has influenced me very strongly because there are many people who harbor ill-feelings and actually indulge in ill-practices against widows, not because there is any tangible evidence of misdeed that requires punishment but just because it is the way things have always been done.

But we have to awaken to new ways of thinking and here, we are not talking about pouring out emotional statements against evil practices against widows. We have had enough of that already and as Dr. Ben Speck said in 1937, “it makes no sense to spend a lot of time attacking the current realities because it is time to create the new models that have in them the complexity that makes the older systems obsolete.”

It is pursuant to this that the Felix King Foundation, beginning from this year, is taking practical steps towards  addressing the issues of widows in Edo state with the belief that our little fire, when fully ignited, will inspire government, non-Governmental Organisations and well-spirited individuals to practically and measurable contribute towards relieving widows of the unbearable burdens society has imposed on them for no reason other than that they lost their husbands.

To give a voice to the challenges of widowhood in our communities and provide our support for a better life for these widows through empowerment initiatives.


It was the great scientist, Albert Einstein who said that “Men cannot solve problems created by men — no matter how much they believe they can.” Riding on this, I am inclined to believe that relieving widows of the burdens our patriarchal society placed on then requires the methodical empowerment of women and widows by not giving them handouts but by placing in their hands, skills and tools for economic independence.

This tool is in Agriculture, especially for the widows in the most vulnerable social bracket.

At the very subsistence level, farming has enabled many families survive. And semi-mechanized levels, it has, and is till, helping a significant number break the vicious poverty circle to education and then prosperity.

We are aware of the huge potentials that Nigeria has in Agriculture and the roles women have played at family unit levels towards ensuring food sufficiency.

Our new initiative is therefore to leverage and strengthen this already existing model by instituting a Widows In Farming Aid programme (WIFARM-AID) and support it as a platform that will enable widows easily gain access to tools and facilities for commercial Agriculture businesses.

WIFARM-AID, which we shall be unveiling at a later date will become a platform to achieve the following immediately:

  1. Encourage the widows to form groups and clusters for enhanced economy of scale
  2. Provide fertilizers, improved crop varieties and seedlings and farming tools, manual and mechanized
  3. Enable irrigation facilities for farms and groups in close clusters
  4. Soft grant for labor engagement.

As a prelude to the WIFARM initiative, we are today providing business support grants and skill acquisition to 96 widows in Edo state at the ratio of 4 widows per constituency so that they can also contribute to their own communities.

I believe, every woman deserves the right to Liberty and the right to succeed. It is with this belief we will introduce the freedom campaign for widows using the #Abolishwidowsmalttreatment with the coin of liberty as a symbol.

The Coin of Liberty –  #Abolish widows maltreatment
I feel greatly delighted by the presence of the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. DR Justin Okonoboh  who was also at 2016 event on June 23, 2016 in Lagos. This is so because we are aware of our limitations as individuals. We are also convinced that his proclamations and commitments as representative of government will go a long way in deepening the penetration of our message to the grassroots.

This why it is important for us that he accepted to unveil our Coin of Liberty Logo today.

This campaign which had already commenced on the digital space  will be sustained until we achieve measurable results. Already, we have created a slogan for it and it is:

The Coin of Liberty is a coin we are using to drive sensitization and awareness creation towards the total abolition or widows’ maltreatment in our society. This  campaign will be  a holistic community outreach campaign to ensure that the message reaches everyone while also motivating them to take positive action by changing their attitudes and dispositions towards widows.

“Together with the community, we can abolish widows’ maltreatment.” #abolishwidowsmaltreatment

May i announce here that the Abolish widows maltreatment campaign will be activated in collaboration with the office of the speaker. Let me say a big thank you to Mr. speaker for accepting to be at the fore front of this campaign that we see to the abolishment of widows maltreatment in Edo state.

Their suffering aggregates a Karmic guilt burden on all of us but their relief and freedom represents upliftment for all of us.

We believe in this project because we are a society in evolution and certain things we cannot solve this moment might find its way into our future that is looking potentially to be very complex. We are passionate about this project because we cannot continue to allow people, especially the most vulnerable women and children around us, to suffer over challenges of death of loved ones that happened as a result of no fault of theirs.

June 23rd, 2017 which is the International widows day has been scheduled for the kick-off of this all important campaign.

Let me express my sincere appreciation to everyone who found time to join hands with us on this journey. Your support means so much to us and reflects our collective revulsion for evil practices in our society. My prayer is for it to also mean a collective resolve to solve it once and for all.

How can I leave here without appreciating the love and care of my wife. She has been with me through the years and has actively and prayerfully been a major pillar on which I lean on to continue to push for changes in the way we interact with the vulnerable among us.

Thank you so much
Felix King


I say it is a journey of faith because the enormity of widowhood challenges in virtually all parts of Nigeria is so much that one solitary, however passionate just may not be able to accomplish much. But we have faith. We have faith in God. We have faith in humanity and the spirit of God in us all. And with this faith, we are convinced that our little gestures will, in time, not only galvanize stronger community coalitions towards lifting widows from the pains inflicted on them by society, but will also assist in reshaping our mindset and disposition to ensure that practices in our cultures that tend to condemn widows to punishments at the demise of their husbands, are totally eradicated to enable us build a more inclusive, more justice oriented society.

Widowhood is an invisible but huge problem across Nigeria and the World today.

I am really excited to be hosting this important conference attended by such a distinguished audience. I know what hectic and demanding lives you lead, so I want to thank you warmly for finding the time to join us today.

There are so many people of expertise and achievement among you today that it seems almost unfair to single anyone out. But if I would like to send particular thanks to the Hon. Speaker of Edo State house of Assembly  RT Hon. Elizabeth Ativie for not only honoring us with her presence but also accepting to be our keynote speaker to I will also like to recognize the presence of the Deputy Speaker, Rt Hon Justin Okonoboh and other members’ of Edo House of Assembly Here today. Also with us today are distinguished members of Lagos House of Assembly and I would like to say big thank you to Hon Olusola Giwa, Chairman House committee on wealth creation and employment, Hon. Desmond Elliot and Hon, olusola Sokunle Hakeem.

I said at the beginning that this is an important conference. I don`t use the word loosely

The right of a widow – the very topic of this conference – is very dear to my heart, It all helps explain why fighting for the rights of widows is a major priority for me.

Today, the Felix King Charity Foundation has combined her concrete help to thousands of widows and their children through our intervention programs which comes in 4 different schemes viz; Health services, Housing, food support, and economic empowerment (widows start-up a business WISBIS) with pushing for the society to respect the rights of widows and this I hope to push high up to national and international agendas.

I feel seriously pained that we have to gather here today to discuss this ignoble and obnoxious prejudice against widows in our society today. It hurts to know that we have such a sour history of treating widows so bad to the point where the United Nations had to set aside a special day to remind us of the inhumane practices we have sustained over generations against our mothers, sisters, wives,  cousins and aunts.

This first International Widows’ Day Conference being organized by Felix King Charity Foundation is a vital first step in promoting the protection and respect for their rights, across all regions and cultures in Nigeria.

As United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has noted, this day is an occasion to call attention to the challenges women in all countries face at the death of their husbands — whether elderly and alone, or young with young children to raise as a single parent and sole provider.

Worldwide, it is estimated that 245 million widows live in extreme poverty, along with their children. In the context of armed conflicts around the world, as well as the HIV and AIDS epidemic, these numbers are increasing.

Here in Nigeria, it is estimated that 8 million widows  are disadvantaged  with their children, most of which are attributed to the ignoble and obnoxious traditional practices and prejudices.

I need to mention that in deciding to observe this day, the United Nations General Assembly:

  • Emphasized that the economic empowerment of women, including widows is a critical factor in the eradication of poverty
  • Reaffirmed that women, including widowed women, should be an integral part of the society in the State where they reside; and
  • Calledon Member States, the United Nations system and other international organizations to give special attention, within their respective mandates, to the situation of widows and their children and to raise awareness of this issue around the world.

While I am indescribably delighted for the honor you accorded the Foundation by attending this event in commemoration of this year’s International Widows’ Day (which occurs annually on the 23rd day of June), it hurts to know however that our society  exposes our women to economic, and social deprivations and untold stigmatization for losing their husbands to the cold hands of death.

For someone like me, it is difficult to understand why the society exploits the pains and vulnerability of widows and their children by exposing them further to poverty, diseases, and other forms of social and economic deprivations in a manner that suggests we are holding them responsible for the death of their husbands. I have seen and heard stories of physical molestations and sexual abuses against widows; I have seen and heard stories of how widows are believed to be cursed and treated as such; I have also heard of widows who were accused of witchcraft and consequently given punishments ranging from ostracization to total banishment. I have heard of many widows that are forced to drink from the water used in bathing the corpse of their late husbands to prove their innocence. While the widows undergo what I will call the most debilitating experience of her life, there is usually a desperate scramble for the property left behind by the departed husband by members of the family including fellow women.

In most cases, society strips them of almost all rights. We deny them the right to own properties, even the right to liberty. We make them dependent but we won’t even allow them depend on us. We force them to live on charity but we will not have them on our own breadlines. We take-over their homes and will not even make them tenants in the houses they once owned; and we call it a tradition?

There is nothing I am saying here today that we are not aware of; the pain that widowhood brings upon women and children can only in my view be equated with the pain of childbirth or sickle cell anemia – understood only by those who go through it.

The Question for everyone here today is  Have we ever considered what would happen to our own family if and when we leave this earth!?

The time has come for all of us; men, women, young, old, rich and poor to speak out with one voice and work hard to ensure that practices that humiliate women and expose them to such heinous punishments are eradicated.

The situation of widows highlights the need to empower women economically and strengthen their land, property and inheritance rights. The big question is do widows really have these rights? I am sure our distinguished panelists will do justice to this all important question today; they will also discuss ways in which deep-rooted gender inequalities impact widows.

It’s also imperative for me to make mention of the 2014 Supreme Court judgment in relation to our Culture and Custom and the Law in Nigeria. According to the judgment, “Any culture that dis-inherits a daughter from her father’s estate or wife from her husband’s property by reason of God instituted gender differences should be punitively dealt with”. The Supreme Court, which described the culture as discriminatory, maintained that, “The punishment should serve as a deterrent measure and ought to be meted out against the perpetrators of the culture and custom.” “No matter the circumstances of the birth of a female child, such a child is entitled to an inheritance from her later father’s estate. “Consequently, the customary law, which dis-entitles a female child from partaking in the sharing of her deceased father’s estate, is breach of Section 42(1) and (2) of the Constitution, a fundamental rights provision guaranteed to every Nigerian. “ The said discriminatory customary law is void as it conflicts with Section 42(1) and (2) of the Constitution. In the light of all that I ask myself and everyone here today, why are we still were we are? This is the reason we are here today.

We know that, given the opportunity, widows can be vibrant and valued members of the community, making their full contributions to their families and societies. Their potential as leaders in their communities also cannot be overlooked. United Nations Women is committed to advancing opportunities for women of all ages, to increase their access to education and employment opportunities, sustainable livelihoods and enable them to live free of gender-based violence.

The time has come for all of us; men, women, young, old, rich and poor to speak out with one voice and work hard to ensure that practices that humiliate women and expose them to such heinous punishments are eradicated. We must move beyond platitudes to the realm of action and these are the simple reasons:

  • It is bad
  • It is evil
  • It is archaic
  • It does not help social engineering
  • It destroys rather than builds
  • It is unjust

For this purpose, we are using this day, specially to pledge this foundation – The FELIX KING CHARITY FOUNDATION commitment to spear head this campaign of widows rights in collaboration with other growing voices against this evil as well as provide helping hands to those of them in need.

The big idea is to focus on the positive power of giving and the common thread of kindness that binds us. It is all about promoting positive life values irrespective of boundary. The Foundation will be working with other well-meaning individuals and organizations in a bid to practically tackle the plight and pains of widows and their children. The foundation believes that if the entire society works together not just to improve the lots of those that are widowed but also strive to totally eradicate the obnoxious widowhood practices, Nigeria and indeed Africa will be a better place for us now and in the future.

We are aware of the enormity of this challenge. We are aware that our intervention may at the end of the day be just   “a drop in the ocean . But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”  And that is why we have taken this initiative – to work with you and as many “like-thinking” members of the society as we can reach to change the circumstances of those our society has conspired with customs to deprive.

The presence of our panelists and guests today is a reflection of the seriousness that this should be accorded worldwide, both within and outside of government.

I am looking forward to an interesting and productive morning — and I am sure these discussions will generate dialogue through which we can all better understand the situation of widows and support them.

We need to give these widows hope and in the words of Barak Obama, President of the United States; “Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

Let us join hands to fill Nigeria with hope. Who knows, it might start with changing lives, one widow at a time.

Thank you and God bless Nigeria!


I am extremely honoured to have been chosen to be a keynote speaker at this year’s International Widows Day Conference with the theme ‘’the rights of a widow- x-raying the 2014 supreme court judgment on the right of woman to inheritance.

In certain parts of Nigeria, the maltreatment of widows is common. In-laws and the community subject them to physical and emotional abuse such as being made to sit on the floor, being confined from a month to one year, having their hair literally scrapped off with razors or broken bottles, not being allowed to bathe, being made to routinely weep in public, being forced to drink the water used to wash their husband’s corpse.

The Suppression of women is deeply rooted in our culture and tradition stemming from the alleged second rate women. Based on these women are also regarded as objects of rights, rather than subjects of rights.

Widows are made to suffer double jeopardy of losing their husbands, sometimes even at the early period of their marriage, and going through some excruciating cultural rites of proving their innocence in the death of their husbands. The situation is even worse if such woman has no male child for the late husband.

Many Widows are still very much ignorant of their rights and place of enlightenment, education cannot be over emphasized in solving this problem.

We as Nigerians needs to lend our voices in condemning the various inhuman treatments that Widows go through. Many Prominent women in our society must unite and in voice continue to condemn in its totality.