We have heard stories of many men who kept numerous other women outside and had children which were not known to their wives until their death when the children surface to make a claim on the man’s estate.
Some of the cases are indisputable when the children have the exact resemblance of the late man. Another benefit which we can locate in polygamy is its use to resolve the increasing cases of childlessness among couples especially where the problem results from a woman’s inability to conceive. This will stem the mental trauma the agonizing couples are subjected to in the search for children. We cannot deny it that all is not well with the adopted solution of child adoption.
Child adoption as we have it today is unAfrican. It is the reason many people today are in the business of arranging childbirth among teenagers who get involved in unwanted pregnancy (baby factory). It is now a booming business which encourages immoral sexual activities among our youths because they are sure somebody will relieve them of the burden once the baby drops. Those who put down polygamous marriage on account of the problem it brings at home in terms of relationship are not realistic.
Everywhere there is a relationship issue. How have those in it grappled with it? We expect that the practice of love in relationship as Christians would come to bear on such marriages and help to stabilize it. It is here we should demonstrate as Christians and true Africans brotherly love, forbearance, tolerance, and sacrifice. We should live and let others live.
We should emphasise the resolution of negative outcomes in polygamous marriages rather than the problem because marriage is a relationship thing and all forms of relationships including monogamy provide its own peculiar problem. We should be true to ourselves and examine thoroughly what we consume in the name of religion.
Sadly, one pronounced effect of western culture and religion is the manner it disoriented us, putting us in a quandary, constantly bringing us into conflict as we are faced with confronting the reality or living what has been preached to us.
This leads us to hypocritical life which manifests in all aspects of our activities.
Today rather than adopt a cultural approach to resolve some of our social problems for example the use of our shrines and juju, we will prefer to demonize it and at the same time the same critics—pastors, politicians, lawyers etc turn round to use the same object of ridicule to protect themselves.
Hypocritically again, many women are aware that their husbands are doing ‘runs’ with babes outside but would quickly shrug it off with the conclusion that it is men. I know a woman who is aware of his husband’s escapades that would hide condoms in the man’s travelling bag to protect herself. They would tolerate it while it lasts but would fight dirty the moment the man makes effort to bring home the woman as wife.
Perhaps they are contented with sharing the man in silence but not openly as if to say the man can do but should not be seen to have done. Culture is formed from the people’s desires to originate measures or practices that can assist them find solutions to challenging issues in their environment.
Thus, it becomes the way of life of the people. The one partner marriage was created by the Oyibos to address the challenges of their economy as well as population explosion. In contrast given our agrarian nature and the need to create more wealth our people at the time requires more wives and children to work in their farms.
A man’s status is determined by the size of his yam barns and households.
Unknown to us the Europeans that practice single partner marriage also indulge in polygamy indirectly. Using divorce as escape route they walk in and out of marriage at will as many times as they like. This again contrasts with our social practices whereby men and especially women are made to sink or stew in their own juice rather than exercise the divorce option even when it is there.
This is because people are living in the illusion orchestrated by religious beliefs and social stigma that go with the tag of a divorcee. It is not surprising therefore why some people imprison themselves in marriage-suffering all manner of humiliation, deprivation, debasement, torture and sometimes die in it because their faith enjoins them to remain there ‘for better or worse’.
The practice and insistence of monogamy in the African world as an ideal standard as opposed to polygamy is purely living a lie. The lie could be evidenced in the numerous children men produce here and there outside wedlock. Monogamy is western oriented and remains an imposition on the black man which does not consider our own peculiarities.
Demonizing and labeling it is only giving a dog a bad name to hang it. Culture they say dies hard and therefore our people are still indirectly hanging on to it. Only very few can practically shun the hypocrisy. Through disorienting the people, we have created more social problems of women glut which helps to fuel prostitution which consequences are obvious to all of us.
Nobody is interested to what happens to the surplus women. Funnily too, the women who are victims to this phenomenon hardly appreciate how it affects them. Men suddenly become priceless possessions and when any woman after praying day and night, keeping vigils, visiting native doctors grabs one they block road for others forgetting they were in the same desperation. ‘I cannot share my man o, God forbid’ some of them proclaim.
Our forebears knew much earlier, as it is known today that women outnumber the men in population in virtually all societies notwithstanding that the Bible account told us that humans started with one man and a woman.
If we credit everything to God is it right, then to assume that God created more women without any plans for them to get married. I do not think the women offended the Creator in any way to merit this experience.
Polygamy is fulfilling the will of God. No wonder so many of them that were reported in the scriptures including those God professed His love for like David acquired plentiful women. Today the rejection of polygamy has given rise to the emergence of single parenthood. In our culture women know the economic and security value of children.
Not wanting to be abandoned in old age many women by their own arrangement now bear children to create their own happiness, not minding that our culture abhors that and would label them bastards (fatherless).
An anonymous writer once claimed that the concept of polygamy is a human trait which is exhibited by both sexes. He contends that it is natural that we are bound to be more attracted to more than one sex partner. He goes further to say that how we handle this is a function of many variables which includes our beliefs, norms, cultures among others.
Consciously or unconsciously we nurse this thought always in our mind even if pretentiously. The practice and level of infidelity experienced today in our land among married men and women lend credence to the above assertion. Earlier it was an aberration to see women in extra marital affairs but today the abnormality has suddenly become the norm.
are even outdoing the men, some say.
If the scriptures have enjoined us to love one another why then should we antagonize and resist our fellow women in marriage and thereby exhibiting our selfish disposition. The true love of our forefathers was exhibited in the Igbo philosophy as sang by the late highlife music maestro Oliver De Coque in his tune: ‘biriooo birika m biri, onyeazola uwa azo, uwaga aba onyeobula’–live and let me live, do not struggle for the world, the world can accommodate all.
The society would be the better for it if a man can comfortably marry as many women as he can take care of.
I think it is high time we began to challenge the statuesque on some of the beliefs and practices that have been rammed down our throats especially from the angle of religion.