ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Gender and Relationships»
  • Non-Monogamous Relationships

Polygamy Women's Choice?

Updated on February 20, 2017
Source
Source

Polygamy, where a man has more than one wife, has its share of critics whether it is outsiders or societies practising it.

Taking multiple wives is protected in constitutions of most African countries under customary law and religion.

For example, the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa provides that: Persons belonging to a cultural, religious or linguistic community may not be denied the right, with other members of that community to enjoy their culture, practise their religion and use their language.

Nigeria is one of the countries that permit polygamy. Although it is fiction, Yoruba movies give a glimpse of family problems in polygamous homes, which are not, by the way, the sole preserve of such homes. The monogamous family unit is also fraught with conflict.

Nigerian movies usually concentrate on what they call the ‘matrimonial home’ and the pull-or-push situation between two wives.

http://nonqaba-cinemamytake.blogspot.ca/2017/02/mobile-phones-and-mathematics.html

African Culture

From what we can detect from these movies, conflict in the matrimonial home stems from authority: authority over the husband, what he eats and wears and family property such as cars or businesses. The family business is a factor because more often than not, men with more than one wife are kings and chiefs or are wealthy.

Societies that practise polygamy because of religion or culture have certain names that denote wives’ hierarchy, with the exception of amaZulu, in South Africa, where women do not lose their maiden names. That is why a man’s wives are known by their parents’ surnames for example: Ma-Gumede, Ma-Shezi, Ma-Cele, Ma-Xaba etc.

In Yoruba movies, the first one is called the senior wife. She is usually the aggrieved one because she used to have all the authority before the arrival of the junior wife.

Although senior wives don’t voice it, they are bitter because co-wives used to be hidden somewhere as mistresses, and were the reason for cracks in the marriage: husband coming home late or not at all, reduced sex, tenderness, respect and money.

Yoruba movies also like the storyline where the senior wife loved the man when he was a ‘nobody’ and she helped him to achieve success or wealth, only to share him with another woman later on in life.

South Africa. Some of President Jacob Zuma's wives.
South Africa. Some of President Jacob Zuma's wives. | Source

Traditional Family Compound

The situation was tolerable in traditional African societies because wives did not live under one roof.

They were managers of their huts within the family compound, where the husband also had his own living quarters. They also had fields which produced food for their kids. The rest they stored for the winter. Paper money came with white settlers so that was not an issue.

Wives however shared many things: their kids had the husband’s surname, milk and meat from the family cattle and goats, chicken and water from streams or rivers. Kids also grew up in the same compound, played together and shared responsibilities like tending cattle.

Therefore, traditionally, wives did not fight over what happens in the matrimonial home because there was none. They had some measure of autonomy in their individual huts.

This also worked well during the husband’s visit because he would go to a particular hut at night, and not the room next door, as the case would be in a single modern home.

The system of wives having their own huts and fields for agriculture also provided a cushion for when human nature kicked in, and the husband started having a favourite wife, intandokazi, as it is called in isiZulu.

Other wives would get less affection from him, but they were not left destitute because they shared everything in the family compound, especially milk from the animals.

Urbanisation and the migrant labour system where men left their ancestral land to dig gold and diamonds, changed the whole dynamics.

He Cheats On Me

The word infidelity was not known because young men with many girlfriends were held in awe and the language isiZulu has many idioms that praised them. Isoka lamanyala is one of them.

Girls growing up in traditional societies also knew that they will marry polygamous men. The word ‘polygamy’ is even misleading because of its negative connotation.

English takes it out of context. For example, a man with more than one wife has isithembu, and language users in Southern Africa understand its cultural context.

Traditionally, it was not about falling in love. Girls were raised to get married, have children and build homes, not like in construction, but build family units which contained more than one wife.

First Wife Has No Choice

Yoruba movies like the following storylines:

  • Man takes second wife because she is pregnant.

  • Man takes second wife because he and his wife have daughters and he wants a son ‘to continue’ the family name.

  • Mothers-in-law force son to take second wife because first wife doesn’t have kids.

  • Man takes second wife because he is rich and wants a ‘trophy wife’ someone younger or famous e.g. movie star.

Movies tend to be sympathetic to the first wife because she has no control over all four scenarios. Subsequent wives have a better advantage because they know exactly what they want from the man.

Nigerian singer King Sunny Ade has more than one wife. One of them, American born Queen Ahneva Adeniyi Adegeye justified her decision, “Once you see any man, you see polygamy. No African man has one wife.”

British Monarch and Polygamy

The plight of the first wife was under public when Prince Charles and his wife Diana Princess of Wales divorced because of his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, who was married to Andrew Parker Bowles at the time.

Camilla married Prince Charles after Diana’s death and is now formally part of the royal household in Buckingham Palace as the Duchess of Cornwall. Various books maintain that Diana and Charles went into the marriage for reasons that were as different as oil and water.

She thought she was marrying prince charming. Buckingham Palace knew that he loved Camilla but had to get married to a single woman who would bear him children, preferably heirs to the throne. Diana, Princess of Wales produced two, Prince William and Prince Harry.

Books do not call the triangle between Diana, Prince Charles and Camilla Bowles a polygamous situation, but it was, with everybody close to the Queen knowing about it.

Women's Choices

Culture or religion is not the main factor in polygamy, but women who willingly become second or fifth wives. Rich couples sign prenuptial agreements (pre-nups) to safeguard their property after the divorce, but there is no pre-nup with a ‘no polygamy’ clause so first wives have no control over the situation.

As long there are women who are happy to be co-wives, there will be polygamy.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is used to quickly and efficiently deliver files such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisements has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)