A mail from the writer of the first contribution you will be reading today, jolted my memory back to my promise to publish as many responses as possible as well as keep the discourse on this topic on the front burner as a contemporary issue. Polygamy needs no introduction, especially in our part of the world.
Though there are varied forms of polygamy, what we practice in our culture is that arrangement which allows a man to take on, or rather, marry more than one wife. And while this practice seems no longer fashionable, due largely to cultural and religious shifts, factors against it have not been overwhelming enough to cause a radical and total change of general perception.
Even the Bible famously quoted as anti-polygamy has not been enough deterrent for its faithful to abide with monogamy. The story of Bisola and Akin resonated the debate on this topic mid last year on this page. Bisola, after several years of struggling with the fact that her husband was not faithful to their vows finally discovered the evidence right inside her home.
Akin was in fact, raising another family besides the one they have together. Threatening hail and brimstone, Bisola has been throwing all sorts of tantrums known with women with her experience. I asked readers these questions among others. If a wife can share her husband with his numerous girlfriends in silence, why should she raise dust or feel threatened if he takes another wife? Are girlfriends less dangerous than wives?
Can someone out there just sincerely tell me what our headache really is about polygamy, besides religion? Should women walk out of their marriages because their husbands took other wives? The responses were amazing as well as diverse. Several of them have already been published over time, even though a long list still remains.
As I have said, this topic is a contemporary issue and we will be exchanging views on it for a long time to come on this page. So, please, the mailbox is still open to fresh contributions from readers. My mail address remains email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org Do have a wonderful weekend!
I have read two previous editions of your column on this same important but often derided topic. Only this time, I wish to chip in my own contribution, with the hope that you will find somewhere to squeeze it in. I have always said that Nigerian are hypocrites and for as long as we remain the way we are, we will continue to go on a merry-go-round, not achieving anything.
It is this same hypocrisy that has pervaded all aspects of our lives as a nation. Without bothering to take you through some of the points already mentioned by other contributors in support of polygamy, I will just raise a few of the issues we always fail to look at and which are actually the main crusts of the matter.
1) Both the much touted religions, Islam and Christianity are alien to our land. Those who introduced them to us do not practice them with the same doggedness that we do, neither do they place religion above the society and constitution of their land. Besides, we always fail to acknowledge the existence of other religions of the world, believing that only members of our religious groups, are entitled to enter the gates of heaven. I doubt very much that this is true.
2) Polygamy, the desire or ability or preference for multiple sex partners is a human trait. All men, and I mean, men and women, are polygamous by nature. We will desire and be attracted to more than one sex partner in our lifetime. It is individual self discipline coupled by other factors such as societal norms, culture, tradition and religion, not forgetting social class and economic power, that will determine how we go about fulfilling this desire.
3) Monogamy is a contraption designed by the West to control their economy and social life. To ensure that monogamy is embraced by their people, they put certain things in place, such as welfare packages available to legally married women and their children. Meaning that in many countries of the West, only this category of women were entitled to social support from the state. A man or woman with more than one spouse is liable to Bigamy and can and will be prosecuted by both the law and again by the spouse.
The irony of this is that even citizens of these climes have also been able to find a way round these laws to pursue their desires. Over the years, the acceptance of single parenthood as a way of life, feminism and Human Right Laws have also helped both the state and citizens to seek compromises on all fronts.
This is why you will find many men, especially those not of Western descent practice their self styled kind of polygamy and still live within the ambiance of the law. If the great West and all it has put in place cannot enforce monogamy on its citizens, is it not hypocrisy to force it on the African man whose culture it is alien to?
In a society where citizens are responsible for their own welfare and survival, how easy is it to control their biological composition or their moral disposition and individual desire? A man will take as many wives as the women are willing to offer themselves or as much as his money or personality can get him.
- Divorce is an important instrument used by the West to provide succour for those no longer interested in monogamous relationships. A man or woman who finds himself no longer in love or desirous of a partner can seek divorce and look for another. It is approved by law and society and people are not stigmatised as we have them in Nigeria.
The state recognises the sham that monogamy can become and provides a lee way for citizens to walk into freedom. Here, once a woman hooks a man into a monogamous relationship, you want to keep him chained there for life, whether both of them enjoy it or not, or are happy or not.
Though divorce is available in Nigeria, it is still considered as anti-social and people, especially women, are regarded as failures if they take the divorce option. While adultery is frowned at by the law in the West and raises the stakes in a divorce suit in a monogamous society, adultery is an acceptable practice here and people are even encouraged to look the other way in order to stay in monogamous relationships. Who is fooling who?
- I find it difficult to believe the saying “one man, one wife”. Rather, I believe that there is a man for every woman. All over the world and in all human society, the population of women far outnumbers the men. Who will take care of the surplus women?
Finally, let me return to my earlier stance that Nigerians are hypocrites. Often, I have come across people who when the situation concerns them would praise monogamy to high heaven, condemning the erring man or woman. As soon as a reversal of roles occurs and the culprit is their own ally, you find them in another breath, singing the praises of the beauty of the African culture. A word is enough for the wise.
Adegbenro S. Aliu.
Most people commenting here are men, so no surprises as the large chunk favour polygamy. I want to refer to the lady respondent in the article. She said she had no problems so far that she too is allowed to have other men apart from her husband. It sounds odd, but that’s the beauty of the golden rule. Do unto others what you want them do unto you.
If a man cannot stomach a polyandrous wife, why would he think of polygamy himself? Selfishness. To the other respondent who copiously quoted from Bible, citing characters who were polygamous yet beloved of God, I want to say that he needs to do more research to know the consequences of their actions.
Abraham’s polygamy gave birth to the various perpetual conflicts we have in the Middle East, and by extension the world over, especially among adherents of Islam and Christianity. David’s polygamy led to cases of incest, murder, and hatred within his family. He too paid dearly for it, though he was still beloved of God.
His son, Solomon, took his own polygamy to the highest level with a combined 1,000 wives and concubines. Yes, he was the wisest and richest in his time. But the Bible says that when he became old, his strange wives lured his heart away from the Almighty God. Only God knows how he ended. (The Qu’ran has a good account of the end of Solomon. You can check it out.)
In the New Testament, marriage issues like polygamy were better clarified by the Lord Jesus and later by some Apostles, including Paul. God created one man and one woman. He had the power to create many women for Adam, but he chose to create one, according to the law of perfection. It’s man’s perversion that led to polygamy, polyandry, gay, etc. Marriage was designed for a man and a woman.
The fact that the world system has obliterated God in its reasoning does not validate the various perversions that bedevil the marriage institution today. A Christian who understands God’s balanced precepts on this sensitive issue would not miss it. Polygamy and its various forms are sins before God.
Polygamy or monogamy has nothing to do with GOD. Remember Jesus’ response when the issue of a woman that married seven brothers was raised. There is no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven. Monogamy is purely a Western way of life. Even the worst atheist in the West sticks to monogamy because it is their way of life and not because he believes in God or any supreme being.
Again, male living things are naturally polygamous. No person can wish that away. Polygamy (multiple sex partner) for men even extends one’s life span, according to a recent study. So, this talk about polygamy being a sin is thrash. What may be the sin there is because you have taken a vow at the altar that you would not marry another wife, i.e. be faithful to her. But then, the man only promises to love the woman till death do them part. It does not exclude loving another woman. Thank you.