ANALYSIS: Polygamy, a ‘cultural’ practice which allows an African man to marry more than one wife, continues to rear its ugly head deep into the 21st century, even though some of the reasons used to justify it have since waned over time.
Modern-day polygamists rely, among others, on the following theories to advance their cause:
• symbol of man’s pride
• marrying numerous wives means numerous children and more manpower to help out with agricultural and livestock work
• avoid a situation of eating bread every day (meaning sleeping with the same woman in and out and day and night)
• following on my father and grand-father’s footsteps because they were polygamists
• it is religion’s recommendations
• it is ‘our’ culture
But most of these theories have been washed away by the torrential rains of socio-economic pressures.
This is why. A man loses his ‘natural’ pride when he abuses his wife or children – physically, financially, sexually and emotionally. Moon of the South’s ‘interminable’ journeys across West Africa – the cradle of polygamy in Africa – have uncovered countless cases of wife abuse and child neglect in all forms.
And many of these abuses have been committed under the cover of Islam and culture: don’t say a word to neighbours because a man is the head of the family and household, and he is a king and a ‘God-given’ sole decision-maker nobody can challenge.
Cities’ children born out of sexual greed and unplanned parenthood in the cities have been left to fend for themselves, meaning to beg on the streets, sleeping rough and sometimes – as it is the case in Senegal – ‘sold’ to religious mystics (marabouts) to be manipulated and forced to work for them.
Those who hide behind religion are either hypocrites, lack faith or do not know the principles of their religion.
The Qur’an orders Muslims to take up to four wives – only if – they can treat them equally. But there is no such thing like treating all wives ‘equally’ because a man always has a favourite woman.
Polygamous men who spoke to Moon of the South pointed out who was their favourite wife – the one they usually offered most beautiful things time and time again, and the one they enjoyed making love to. Hypocrites!
Don’t even say it is ‘our culture’ because all cultures are pure and therefore will not allow abuse, neglect and injustice in marriages. Polygamous marriages have serious issues, more serious then you and I can think of.
There are many polygamous marriages in Africa, more than 60% in Senegal, but when Africans talk about this issue, they look straight at Swaziland and South Africa.
Swazi King Mswati III (45) has 14 wives and is about to marry his 15th, an 18-year-model he has chosen at a reed dance.
Each of these wives has a big palace, special drivers, maids, aides, special vehicles, ‘special benefits’, and go shopping in Western, Asian and African cities whenever the need arises. All this thanks to taxpayer’s money.
Swaziland is a poor country devastated by Aids, dictatorship, hunger, corruption, lack of multipartism and freedom of expression and media liberties. But the king keeps marrying and marrying because his late father did it.
There are conflicting reports about the number of Mswati’s children. Some say 40, others say 50.
But what the Swazi people benefit from these numerous marriages is anyone’s guess.
On the contrary, the king’s countless wives and children’s expenses are drying up the country’s ‘modest’ coffer, forcing the king to beg the South African government to bail out his country, to enable him to service his populous family.
Imagine if the king had only one wife or let’s say four children, the money that was going to be saved from the huge amount currently being spent on his 14 wives and 50 children could have been put to better use, such as invest it in hospitals, schools, more ARV drugs and treatment for Aids patients, better roads, programmes of social uplfitment, and so on.
Same scenario for South African president Jacob Zuma: four wives and 20 children (some say 22), and rumours are rife that he is about to wed another wife soon. Taxpayers spent millions of rands every year to keep his ‘problematic’ family alive.
Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini, has six wives and 25 children, and the provincial government of Kwazulu-Natal budgeted US$7 million (R70 million in SA currency) in 2012 to maintain all these people.
In September 2012, Zwelithini asked the government to spend US$700 000 (about R7 million) to build a palace for his sixth wife – the youngest – Queen Zola Mafu, who did not have one and was reportedly sharing.
Another US$1.4m (R14 million) was also needed to upgrade the palace of one of the Zulu King’s wives, Queen MaMchiza.
That is too much and a lot of crap.
There is also the issue of sexually satisfying all these women. How does one go about sleeping with all this gang and make them happy? Believe or not, there will always be the case of one or two looking elsewhere for ‘real stuff’, as Mswati’s wife and apparently one of Zuma’s wife (Nompumelelo aka MaNtuli) did.
Moon of the South has uncovered a lot of wife-cheating and adultery stuff going on in many polygamous marriages in West Africa.
No need to go further because it sickens the sound mind to keep reading about this foolishness.
The continent has no good roads, houses, schools, electricity is a nightmare, and sanitation and drinking water are a serious problem, while unemployment bites and HIV/Aids is exterminating the African population, slowly but surely.
Food insecurity is a reality and our children – together with the children conceived in polygamous marriages – are on the streets, begging for survival. And while all this is happening, our big brothers and younger ones continue taking more wives and ‘laying’ more children.
Polygamy will eat Africa alive, and it should be constitutionally banned, like in the US. Some even suggest that the UN should intervene to wipe this plague out.
Are the Americans stupid because they banned it? Nope, they did so because they know it is counterproductive and ‘evil’.
What do you think?
Photo: Swaziland King Mswati III, the world’s biggest polygamist. Credit: courtesy of AFP/Getty Images