By David G Maillu

One day I had a bizarre encounter with some Americans in San Francisco when they pounced on me asking, “Are you from Africa where you practice polygamy? How many wives have you got?” They were not amused when I told them I had one wife. They confronted me with the strange question, “When you’ve got two or more wives, how do you go about your sex deals?”

 But that was not the bizarre topic. They talked excitedly about group sex in which couples would for having sex before the eyes of one another, which they thought was progressive. It was at that time I asked a question they had no answer for. “Which is more civilized or progressive/ than the other? Your group sex or the African polygamy where the polygamist has each wife occupying her own home for private consummation of the marriage?” They exchanged looks and let me have the day.

 The West is being invaded by homosexuals and lesbians demanding public acceptance and respect as couples. Christianity has even taken a step further to marry gay couples in churches. The irony for those who have watched gay couples is that in each couple there is one partner who plays the role of husband and one who play the role of wife, even in the manner they dress and behave in public, imitating natural couples.

 But so what? Let it go because it’s neither my philosophy nor my contention. What disturbs me is that there is a loud campaign and critics from the West telling African how primitive and menace polygamy is. One could as well wonder aloud: When out there homosexuals and lesbians are promoting their right aggressively yet yelling insults to us, why are our polygamists taking the beating lying down instead of stormed into streets to demonstrate against that attempted infringements of the nobility of the polygamous marriage? Why is polygamy not being supported and promoted squarely by our law? 

 Polygamy, which I have explained in more details in my book, Our Kind of Polygamy, is as old as African life is. It’s common knowledge in Africa that majority of the greatest men were born and brought up in polygamous marriages, from Nkrumah, Kenyatta, Kaunda, Mandela, Nyerere, President Zuma, Shaka Zulu, from Jaramogi Oginga, Chinua Achebe, put me in that list. One of the best models of polygamous family is the Kenyan Mwendwa family in Kitui, whose son, Justice KitiliMwendwa, was the first Chief Justice in the newly independent Kenya, along his other famous stepbrothers including NgalaMwendwa, ChaleMwendwa and Titus MbathiMwendwa…

 Diba, the colourful presidential candidate in the last General election is proud of being armed with three wives. A polygamous home is a dynamic hunting team under the command of the man. A polygamist’s mind faces more challenges in containing the family than a monogamist’s mind does. Those challenges invite adventurous thinking, innovation, leadership and aggressive fight for survival This is the backbone of their success. Lke it or dislike it, polygamy, which is a way of life, has done Africa proud. Polygamy is a foreign terminology in African.

 Psychologically, a child born and brought up in a polygamous marriages is endowed with a unique workshop for his or her social development unlike a child from a monogamous family where at times, he or she is subjected to dictatorial demands of the parents devoid of the checks and balances found in polygamous families.

 On the ground, the present storm of cultural transition in Africa is hitting the polygamy institution hard in favour of monogamy where many men have one registered wife but lovers in the background with whom they can father children termed bastards. The traditional man of substance would take that lover out there and add her to his marriage openly and, honorably, father and raise a respectable family in which all the children feel equally appreciated. The lover is abused by being kept behind the scene and given second class treatment with her bastard children. When her lover decides to drop her and go for a younger and better lover, where can the former lover go for justice which would help her fed her abandoned children?

 Research shows openly in Kenya that ethnic communities which have drastically played down on polygamy are, unfortunately, the biggest producers of women prostitution, abandoned children and criminals in the nation. However, communities which still appreciate the practice of polygamy hardly produce women prostitutes, abandoned children and criminals and homosexuals.

 Between the producer and non-producer of prostitution, bastards and criminals, therefore, who, among the three, should take home the glamour of nobility and higher civilization? Is it the group that practices gay marriage and group-sex games, or the one that is strictly monogamist, or the one that practices polygamy? On behalf of the integrity of the nation, which side should a responsible government place support?

 Do you know how much the nation would gain if it addressed the polygamy issue by giving it moral and financial support and promotion? In given time, that effort would bring to end women prostitution, abandoned children and the value of woman would be balanced. At the present time women value has suffered inflation because there are too many free women out there for adulterous men.

 My American debaters wanted to know whether every African was a polygamist. The truth on the ground is that polygamous families are only about fifteen percent of the married population. The sex ratio of births in many societies tends to be 49 percent males and 51 percent females. Hence, there is only a 2 percent surplus women to cater for polygamy. Failure to adopt that surplus number into marriage creates the multiple problems we are sharply beginning to face.

 African philosophy is founded on natural law. Man is made for woman and woman is made for man. Period. This is the principle of physics in which positive and negative elements must join to form life. Woman is the positive element and man is the negative element. Any civilization that dares temper with natural law pays dearly for that. Some of the Eastern countries, headed by China, have tempered with that equilibrium by creating laws demanding one couple one child. Since sons are rated more value than a daughters, abortions and killing of infant daughters take upper hand. Result? Creation of a nation with a staggering number of men without women for marriage. Obviously, male homosexuality becomes the Tsunami. Who pays for the consequences?