By David Maillu
Published September 4, 2023

Our Kind of Polygamy by David MailluWhy is it rare to find unmarried person in traditional Africa, woman or
man? In that tradition, even when a family knew their son was infertile,
they found a way of getting him a family he could proudly call it his own.
If he couldn’t make his wife pregnant, there were members in the extended family to make her pregnant for him. The child born to that marriage would still carry his name even if he was not the biological father. Children out of such marriage were brought up to respect their father. Some of them would not even be aware of his status until they were big. His wife bore his name proudly. He accepted with appreciation when someone gave his wifesex companionship.

That was the case because having a family was and still is the lifeline of
anyone. To have no family was and still is, in many places, a social
vagabond. It is obvious; therefore, that sex was the dominant issue behind marriage. Marriage was a social investment for the family.


The sex of the individual, therefore, was not a private property but, generally speaking, a family commodity, which the family can use in a noble manner to enhance the family’s strength. Life is a give and take. You are born to take care of your parents and your siblings when they are in a place of wanting help. You give birth and take care of children because they will take care of both you and your interests.

The choice of whom you should marry, therefore, had to be endorsed by members of your family in order to make sure that the new comer to the family came to add value to the family. It was the quality of the person coming to the family which was most important. It was in order, therefore, for the family to throw challenge at a wrong choice of marriage.

This family-oriented marriage is well-suited for survival because the spouse has got a team of companions in fighting for the survival of the marriage. The wife is protected by the family against the unwarranted selfishness of her husband. The husband has got support from family members in containing the weaknesses of his wife. It is a teamwork marriage.


That was done under the realization that sex, by itself, is not the prime mover of the marriage; and that falling in love is not prerequisite to successful marriage. Marital responsibility is the prime mover
irrespective of the physical features of one of the partners. The two can fall in love and fall out of love yet continue the journey of life together for the benefit of the family. This explains why in traditional
society divorces were rare.

This explains why arranged marriages were traditionally cherished for the security in that arrangement. Therefore, arranged marriage can’t be retrogressive or primitive. In every sense, it is progressive even for
modern times.