Monday, November 5, 2012

Modern day Polygamy: Pick a number

First it was Linda Muthama. And now Cecilia Mwangi, former Miss Kenya, follows hot on her heels. Celebrities (I use this term loosely) trying to ‘justify’ their place in society; the place of a second wife. Cecilia admits that Linda’s coming out on her polygamous arrangement emboldened her to do the same.

They are vilified unjustly and they urge the modern society to stop demonizing them since polygamy is a better, far much better arrangement than monogamous families who bear the brunt of infidelity.  So a man won’t be faithful to his wife and what, we create a carnival for all promiscuous men to go on the rampage and legitimize their philandering?

When I read the articles where the two granted interviews to shed light on their lifestyle choice, I asked myself a few questions; Does the first wife have any say in this or do we give them the ‘put up or shut up’ ultimatum? Would the same women encourage their husbands to get a second wife had they been married as first wives? Better yet, if the said 'husband' sought wife number three, would they be ok with it? It’s still good old polygamy isn’t it?

Polygamy feeds two vices; that of a player, and a golddigger. Its hard to believe that such arrangements are borne of love when it happens only among wealthy men.We don't see the average 'sufferer' trying to shoo away scores of women eager to take their (2nd, 3rd, 4th) place in their lives. If he can provide just the basics, why not give the poor man a chance?

Polygamy tells the player that when you settle down, you don’t really have to settle down. One guy even went ahead to tweet, “If Cecilia Mwangi, a whole Miss Kenya, can become a second wife, ladies who are you not to agree to such an arrangement?”  

The argument that being Africans, we should not stray too far from our traditional practices, polygamy included, has been floated. Let’s not however forget that just like FGM, wife inheritance, and wife battery, some cultural practices were not really helping the society in general and women in particular. That’s why they had to be discarded at some point. Polygamy thrived in the days when women were considered as good as property. The more a man had cattle, goats, sheep, land, AND women, the wealthier they were considered. Polygamy was entertained in the days when women had neither voice nor choice. A wife had no say if one evening, her husband came home with a woman he had lusted after for a while and in a sexual gratification whim declared her his second wife. Polygamy meant that a woman could do zilch as long as cows had been taken to her father’s home to seal the deal.

It is commendable when second wives encourage their ‘husbands’ not to neglect the other family. Noble even. But it must be understood that sometimes material provision is not all a woman seeks from her husband, especially in this day and age where women are comfortably capable of taking care of their financial needs. All some women ask for is for their husband to prove that while married to him she will become his be-all and end-all, his credit card and stock market shares notwithstanding.

It’s very hard to believe that a woman would consider marrying a man if she knew that there was a chance he could bring another woman into their life and make her part of their marital home. Second wives are a result of infidelity in marriage, a breach of contract. They are always imposed on the first wife. I find that unfair.

We are trying to discourage the illicit and secretive affairs outside marriage by lauding polygamy, but aren't polygamous marriages a product of 'illicit and secretive affairs?'

Please help me understand polygamy will you? In my understanding, a polygamous man is a selfish man who convinces a woman to marry him. A few years (or months, doesn’t really matter) later,  he gets bored of the whole thing (loving wife included) and he goes out to play. He then brings home his game and tells the missus “Guess what wifey, I like this one too (maybe even better) I promised you that you will always be my number one didn’t I? Well, she is number two. She stays. End of story.”


  1. The saddest part was that Cecilia can't even say who this hubby is.. If I had a hubby I'd want to hold his hand n say look, here's my hubby n not be tucked away like a dirty secret..

    Kataa hiyo!

    1. It would even be better if the said husband came out to claim his wife number two ey?

  2. Thanks so much for writing this post. I was shocked when I read the article, but it seems to be the trend in Kenya sadly. I wonder if people ever stop to think about the effect on the children borne out of polygamy? Cause obviously the father has to split his time between both households (and he'll probably have favourites). This could lead to unhealthy sibling rivalry between the children. At the end of the day, we need to teach young females that they need to value themselves much more .

    1. True. And everyone is trying to justify all types of ills to soothe their conscience.

    2. Who is to blame for Polygamy…? Most women would answer this question by saying “men,” this is because a lot of women believe that culture favours men in most situations.

      Well sometimes men do some fucked up things and use culture as scapegoat, they usually use the phrase “Its part of my culture…” That is pretty selfish and not fair to women. You can't mess shit up and hide behind culture. Greedy bastards!!!

      However, I think women should also be blamed for ‘polygamy,’ First of all, no one is forcing women to be victims of polygamy, they choose to be the victims… Second of all, broke guys will never in a million years become polygamists... Well, I think these women don’t mind being victims of polygamy, mainly because of material gain. Here is a question; do you think Zuma would be having so many wives if he was broke?

      Always remember that this is according to me…

    3. I agree with you Millie, women have become way too materialistic!

  3. Everything you have written should smoke out the polygamist streak in any honest man who reads this piece. Of course none NEEDS to read this to know that polygamy is a structurally unsound house and a curse to boot.

  4. True. I think deep down, every man already knows that this is asking for too much, but since some women have no qualms in sharing their men, who are they to say no to having their cake & eating it. Cecilia et al foolishly think they have it all figured out, I can only sympathize.