All In The Family: The Bidens

By Ikenga Chronicles January 19, 2019

All In The Family: The Bidens

–Dr. Vitus Ozoke

Hunter Biden is Joe Biden’s second son. His first son, Beau, died of cancer in 2015, leaving behind a wife, Hallie, and two children. Hunter and his wife, Kathleen, are currently separated and going through a divorce.

Now, Hunter and his sister-in-law, his deceased brother’s wife, are romantically involved. The Biden family are very much supportive of the relationship, and so are friends of the Biden’s. Personally, I’m happy for those who are genuinely happy with what they do. So, I’m happy for the Bidens.

Now, for me, it’s not about Hunter and Hallie Biden. No, it’s not about them at all. They just happen to be the story that leads me into a broader discussion, a discussion that interrogates the normativity of such a practice from an intercultural perspective.

Intra-family remarriage, a practice where a surviving brother remarries and takes care of his late brother’s spouse and children, was very common in many African societies. It is no longer popular, thanks to the Whiteman’s Christian religion. Christianity, for whatever reason, frowns upon such practice. Western cultural theorists have castigated the practice as barbaric.

Women in such unfortunate situations now find themselves having to make very difficult decisions. They can stay widows in their late husband’s home for the rest of their lives, or they can return to their maiden homes, return the dowry to their late husband’s family, and move on with their lives. Both of those impose enormous cultural dilemma on the women. Should they choose to remain, any child born post the demise of their husband, is, culturally, their late husband’s. Should they decide to return the dowry and return to their maiden home, their chances of remarriage are very low, especially when they have children already.

So, in light of the Hunter and Hallie situation, is it still barbaric for African men to remarry their deceased brother’s widow? Is the Hunter and Hallie situation new in the Western hemisphere, or are there precedents? If there are precedents, is it possible that the West and her Christian religion were condemning an African practice that was also going on in their own backyard?