By David G Maillu
The most persistent and burning question today regarding Polygamy is whether Polygamy is a civilized practice or uncivilized, if not primitive and irrelevant. That is why a Catholic priest, Father Dr Dominic Wamugunda concluded in the Sunday Nation of January 10, “It’s surprising that in the 21 century where the world’s traditions seem to have evolved to fit into accepted global norms, some societies still condone Polygamy, a fact traditionalists oppose.”
In the same tone Reverend DrTimony Njoya says, “Sex is a right that should be given in equal proportion to the couple. Show me any man who would be comfortable marrying a woman with several other husbands. If we were to condone polygamy we should also put up a fight to allow polyandry in our society.”
The disciples of the colonially launched Christian-religion storm in Africa have been the most ambitiously destructive critics of Polygamy which, traditionally, is perceived as noble social African system. That is why the above “men of God” Wamugunda and Njoya hold intellectual slaughter knives after the neck of Polygamy. The first question to ask particularly the Catholic Father, being wifeless because he is imprisoned in the Catholic celibacy cocoon which has no foundation in Africa, whether he is qualified to talk about Polygamy. Which traditionalists are those he claims oppose Polygamy? They want to kill Polygamy out of the belief that Polygamy is unchristian, although they cannot show you where in the Bible Jesus Christ condemned Polygamy. They base their argument on flimsy reasons based on white man’s cultural interpretations of the Christianity. In the first place, the biblical God’s most beloved men were polygamous, namely Abraham, Jacob, King David, and others, epitomized by King Solomon with his a thousand wives and concubines.
Is there a God of the Old Testament and God of the New Testament? When did the God of the Holy Bible change and start condemning Polygamy? “I am the Lord, unchanging,” says the biblical God: (Malachi 3:6). Did Jesus Christ come on earth to change God’s appreciation of Polygamy?
The sex ration of births in Kenya – which is repeated in many African countries and elsewhere in the world – show that 49% of births are males and 51% are females. That forms a disparity or surplus of 2% females. Going by today’s Kenyan population of about 40 million, the 2% of that population is 800,000 surplus women. If monogamy is God’s dictation of marriage without any allowance, what is God saying about that Kenyan surplus of 800,000 females? If God didn’t have polygamy in mind, why would God not have created an ratio of births? If one aging girl out that surplus came for advice to Father Dr Dominic Wamugunda or Reverend DrNjoya and asked, “Man of God, I want a husband and a family of my own, what should I do?” Would they tell her, “Please, go back and become a Catholic nun.”?
Traditionally, it is that surplus of 2% which made it possible for some people to engage in Polygamy. African tradition has it that only 10 to 15 percent of marriages in Africa are polygamous. The rest are monogamous marriages because nature does not produce enough females for any man to engage in polygamy. The traditional kept a perfect social balance in addressing that surplus.
Addressing that surplus through marriage has always appreciated the value of a wife in traditional Africa, simply because there were no free single women out there waiting to marry any irresponsible man who had thrown out his wife. Children were born and brought up by both parents in steady and extended families. Hence, traditional families produced emotionally balanced citizens. However, today, in the fast growing economic culture of monogamy borrowed from western interpretation of marital values and culture of “falling-in-and-out-of-love”, the value of a wife has depreciated a lot. Because of that waiting surplus out there, a man can throw his wife out today and get married tomorrow. The end result is creating instable marriages and highly competitive demands that bring up a host of citizens who are not psychologically properly baked.
For example, in Kenya, tribes which have embraced the culture of monogamy and “mistresses” are the ones which have contributed most to creation of prostitution and degradation of woman’s value; hence, disgracing the integrity of the nation. Tribes which have withheld Polygamy have hardly contributed to prostitution; hence, remaining a credit to the social integrity of the nation.
Frustration of Polygamy, therefore, has obvious anti-social consequences in the nation. Some of the terrible consequences are in the growing number of broken marriages and in the fast increasing rate of single-mother families. Children born from those troubled relationships keep the disturbing psychological trauma of the nation, with a heavy price to pay for the nation.
Those who have studied the traditional African social order have it clear on record that polygamous families have taken a lead in producing noble persons. It is even a common knowledge that the best leaders have been produced by polygamous families. On the contrary monogamous families take lead in producing selfish persons and self-centered leaders. Even though we say men are polygamous by nature, Polygamy involves man and woman. It is not a military regime where women are forced to be involved in polygamy. It is a negotiated social contract in which, for example, a wife who knows that her marriage is threatened by divorce may avert the divorce by allowing the husband to settle the dispute by marrying another woman and still keep his first marriage, not only for her own benefit but for the benefit of the family to. In traditional Africa it is not a big deal a wife to have a co-wife when there is a good reason for that. In Africa those who have learnt to share with those who have-not; it is part of their religion. Polygamy is an attempt to solve a marital problem.
A child born in a polygamous family is given the first excellent social workshop for his and her development. It is in that workshop the child learns the value sharing things, and the value of being a good listener to others. It is in that prime social workshop where egocentric behaviour is nipped off. It is in that workshop where the child learns that he or she is not the central figure of the family but merely an important member of the family and community. It is in that extended family that the overbearing emotional imbalance of fathers and mothers are tried and controlled,, making sure that the child is not subjected to an imbalanced upbringing. The co-wife learns from her partners that she is not a god or an angel, but merely an important member of the family.
Of course, life is not easy for the polygamist. By marrying more than one wife the man creates a stiff opposition to his views. His self-imposed greatness is cut down to the right size. It is in that workshop that he, too, realizes that he is not a god but the responsible father of his family. Traditional extended family had strict checks and balances which prohibited him from using violence to silence his wives. The eyes of the wives together with those of the children and the ones from the extended family controlled his general conduct effectively. There is sayings that if you want to tame a man make him a polygamist. In absence of that extended family, the wife in a monogamous marriage faces the wrath of her husband’s hostility. He can beat her up and throw her out tomorrow. If she dares take him to court, she lives to regret that the man occupying the legal bench proves to her that birds of the same feather flock together.
Who, in any case, said that Polygamy is an African affair? Europe and America practice Polygamy, perhaps, just as much as Africa does. However, their Polygamy has a different terminology. It is called Consecutive Monogamy. In that culture a man can marry as many wives as he wishes. The difference with his Polygamy is that he lives with one wife under one roof at a time. When he fed up with her he manufactures reasons which he would use to kick her out regardless what happens to the children; children form secondary position in marital evaluation. Simply, he wants the matrimonial bed to get a different occupier. The new occupier comes exactly under the same terms. When he has done with her too, he throws her out and goes for the third occupier. So on and so on until he has satisfied his masculine ego. Divorces in those quarters have reached the degree that out of every five marriages, three end in divorce. That is a terrible social problem. In traditional Africa divorce is rare.
Often, while the man enjoys the monogamous in the white man’s consecutive polygamy, he can get more sexual satisfaction from outside from a mistress. Mistresses belong to the unlucky group of single women on the shelves dying for a man’s company however short-lived that company can be. In order to keep the flame of the company burning, she employs all the feminine witchcraft that her brains can manufacture. If she plays the game very well in making the man feel like a god, she can keep him for a good while. But she knows too well that she is third class to the occupier of the matrimonial bed. The occupier can crush her. She prays that the mistress should fell dead in the street one day or be knocked to death by a motorist. It is survival for the fittest. The children from her relationship with the lover are nothing else but bastards or third-class children in a society where they live feeling ashamed of their fate.
In African Polygamy, the man collects wives and keeps them and would never become morally degraded enough to throw out the mother of his children. It is not that divorces are unheard of in traditional Africa; there are divorces but only under rare situations, such as the woman engaging herself in witchcraft or practicing terribly inhuman activities. African social life does not produce bastards. It produces equally accepted and valued children. Whether their father is monogamous or polygamous, they have full family and father. In fact, all the children of the polygamous President Zuma of South Africa are proud of having him as their father. President Zuma has done African social order proud. He should be praise and given credit for him.
By disrespecting Polygamy we are setting families against each: families with husbands and families without husbands; fam8ilies of children with fathers and children without fathers. Studies of social upheavals keep the records of what civilization we are creating.
For the first time in the history of modern African independent states, a solidly noble African leader called President Zuma has shown the world that he is proud and committed in African cultural interpretation of marriage. Isn’t he more noble than President Bill Clinton who, while the world watched, lied that he had no affair with that woman? A true African would have wondered of President Clinton, “If he really loved her and he had the material means to keep her, why would he not marry her?” Of course his wife Hilary Clinton would tell that African to go to hell together with that woman. President Clinton devalued himself gravely morally in the eye of the African traditional value. In Kenya we have so many of Clinton likes fake noble men who keep a host of mistresses behind the scene and produce bastards to degrade African social civilization..
They are selling to Africans a bastard culture by ridiculing Polygamy in the name of civilization. For example, out there they see sense in marrying two men in broad light, letting the two men exchange marital vows and rings, one of them acting female while he is too much aware of the composition of genital equipment he carries and that, in God’s order, man should marry woman, something which even animals and insects know too well and comply with.
It should pass without question that, if we are truthful to ourselves and proud of cultural values, a commission should be appointed immediately to look into the Polygamy problem, see how to address it in order to fit suitably into our modern time then legalize it. The terrible consequences of our failure to address that are written on the social wall in capital letters.