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Polygamists My Foot!

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Will the real Polygamists please stand up?

Do you see any?

You may think you do, but you really don’t. See all those men who just stood up, claiming to be polygamists, those are not polygamists. Don’t be fooled. They are dishonest, conniving cheats who are unable to commit to a marriage. They are trying to cover up their shortcomings with excuses such as ‘Men are by nature polygamous’ ‘It’s in their DNA’ ‘The unfair ratio between men and women; too many women, too few men’ … what hogwash! These men give polygamy a bad name – and I am no crusader for polygamous marriages.

Bona fide polygamy was practiced traditionally for many reasons. I understand that it had its place in the traditional African culture and that much, I can respect. I however believe that our modern society, our modern men and women are all not cut out for polygamous marriages.

Polygamy benefited society where the many wives and their many children assisted in planting and cultivating land to generate wealth for the family. The whole unit came together to ensure that poverty was kept at bay. That was part of the reason why a man with many wives and children was considered wealthy. This role of polygamy went out the window when white collar jobs were sought and the menial jobs of cultivation and cattle rearing were assigned to paid laborers. Moreover, traditional African societies were more community oriented and less selfish, which is a far cry from what you see today in our ‘to each his own’ mentality.

Women benefited from polygamy when widows were absorbed into the late husband’s brother or uncle or any such male relative’s household where she and her children were provided for. This helped to fill the void caused by the demise of their breadwinner that would otherwise leave them destitute. Lucky for women, various career opportunities abound now and in the event of death of the husband, she still is capable of providing for her children without necessarily entering a polygamous arrangement with the husband’s kin.

Let’s not forget that polygamy worked perfectly when women were docile and felt compelled to live with every decision their husbands made without raising any objection. That docile, voiceless woman, just like the polygamous man, are hard to come by today.

We, instead, have men who are hung up on polygamy and refuse to let go even when all evidence shows that they are not cut out for this lifestyle. They are the people with warped excuses on why they are and will always be polygamous.

This when they do not need more wives to sir them more children. They do not consider wives or children as a sign of wealth. Ask these cheats how many children they would like to have. “Two, maybe three” is the most probable answer. If anything, the wealthy are notorious for having one or two children. Remember the Cabinet list that was read by president Uhuru Kenyatta where almost all the appointees curiously had two children? Well, wealth is not equal to children is not equal to wives anymore. The many wives = wealth equation is obsolete!

Polygamy was not just about gaining a free pass to multiple sexual partners. It was about the belief in security in numbers and the manpower it comes with. It was to take care of taboos associated with having sex with a breastfeeding woman which gave the husband the option of sleeping with the other non-lactating wife. Polygamy was about ensuring gender diversity of the children, among other reasons.

Polygamy is not for men who are bored with their wives and are looking for a new thrill. Not even if their wives are not sexually appealing anymore having suffered the effects of childbirth, child-rearing, demanding jobs, more demanding family responsibilities and financial strains. Polygamy is not for selfish men who don’t think of anybody else but themselves.

Polygamy is not with us anymore. It died. Let’s go ahead and bury it already! It did not just die because of Westernization. It died with the economy. Today’s man is not cut out for polygamy because he cannot afford it. What happens therefore is that the first wife is neglected while the younger wife, who has demands from here to Nigeria and insists on donning a weave worth half a million while living in a lavishly furnished apartment in Kileleshwa, gets all the attention. He spends all his money on her while the first wife and her offspring suffer. Some men even depend on their first wives to keep the second wife.

So. Polygamists my foot! Please sit your a** down?

First published on the Storymoja Festival Blog

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He Cheats On You Because You Are *His* Wife.

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We need to come up with a list. Yes! A list of excuses for the other man. You know, the man who cheats on his slim, fun, adventurous (perfect?) wife? It isn’t fair to provide excuses for the fat woman’s husband, and leave the other husbands hanging. This borders on discrimination, if you ask me.

The man with a fat wife is taken care of courtesy of the article written by Njoki Chege on why men cheat. He can now sit pretty, have his cake, eat it, and have another one. The missus might come up to him, all crushed, teary-eyed, asking “Honey, why would you cheat on me? What does she have that I don’t? Why would you do this to me after everything that we’ve been through? I’ve been there for you bla bla bla ….”  Normally, he would be beside himself fumbling for words to explain away his despicable actions.

Oh, but not today!

Today, all he has to do is lift his heavy frame, protruding tummy and all (he’s been eating loads of cake, remember?) and walk briskly towards his special cabinet where he keeps his treasured reading material. He adds a spring to his step as he whistles the song;Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera… Guan-tana-meeeera, guajira Guan-tana-mera… He will take out the key to the cabinet from a bunch in his pocket and open it. Slowly, without saying a word to the fat, sniffling wife standing in front of him, he will remove THE precious newspaper sitting atop some playboy magazine. He will grab the paper with both hands and give it a kiss. He will open the page with the words “LADIES: It’s all your fault that he is CHEATING!” scrolled across the page and he will give it another bigger, wetter kiss. They should get a room right? Smiling, he will hand it to his sobbing wife. “It’s all in there, dearie. The answers you seek are all in there” he will pat her on the back sympathetically; lips pursed, and leave her to it. She will read the article from beginning to end. She will stop asking questions.  Her husband will go back to eating his cake. Having it. Gobbling it. Growing fat. Obese. Nobody cares if he is fat. No one will cheat on him because he is fat!

So things are cut out for that guy. Lucky bastard!  What about the one with a slender, slim, beautiful, high-heel donning, gym-attending, fun-loving wife? What is he supposed to say when he is caught cheating? Who will speak for him when he is faced by his angry wife? Doesn’t he have a right to some excuses too? Well, I think he does! I think we should give him some material to hand his wife too. In all fairness people. In all fairness!

It’s not going to be easy though. This woman hits the gym on the regular, dresses to kill, loves to have fun. She is a busy career woman and has no time to nag or keep tabs on her husband. She gives you your space and you (unbelievably) get to do you! She will be a tough one to crack. What to do… what to do? There sure must be something about her that is not right. Think people. Think!

I suggest we make this as brutal an attack as the one we did on her ‘imperfect’ counterpart. Where we called the other woman fat, we will call this one skinny – a pack of bones, if you like. Where we said that she stuffs her face like a pig, we will say she is an irritating nitpicking nibbler. We will focus on her obsession with beauty and fashion. We will point out how superficial she is! She is so vain, we will insist. Like, who the hell does she think she is?

Let’s do this people. Let us accord the ‘perfect’ wife’s husband the same courtesy we so graciously granted the fat, boring, nagging wife’s husband, shall we?

LADIES: It’s all your fault that he is CHEATING!

  1. You are too thin. A man wants to hold some flesh when he touches you, not to outline your skeletal framework. African men like voluptuous women. A woman with a well rounded behind drives her man crazy, haven’t you heard? Sadly you don’t have that. Can you therefore blame him when he cheats? Here, wipe your tears and munch on this chicken drumstick.
  2. You make your man insecure with your good looks. When you walk down the street, men stare at you like you are still single, disregarding the ring on your finger. Men are waiting to pounce on you…you drive him to cheat.
  3. You don’t act like a married woman. You still insist on having fun. Always coming up with ideas on where you should go for holiday, for dinner every Wednesday? Why don’t you grow up and gain some sense of responsibility? Your children are in school, so think school fees! Think mortgage payments! Think retirement benefits! Having fun ended with singlehood so get with the program!
  4. You have too much to say about everything. You should chill a little. Let your man be the man, you know? Talk less. Let’s see you more and hear you less.
  5. You don’t even call him to check up on him when he is out with the boys?! Do you even care about this husband of yours? Other women nag, but you just don’t care! If he cheats on you, it is because he wants someone who needs him.
  6. Look at what you wear. Should we even go there? You don’t dress like a married woman! That dress is too short, for chrissake! Stop exposing your cleavage! And you wonder why he cheats on you? You embarrass him with your slutty dressing. What do you want to achieve? You want his friends to hit on you? You want to attract the attention of other men? You whore?! (Too harsh?)
  7. Ask yourself woman; what is he supposed to do when you are out there living your life like he doesn’t exist? Cheat? Well…

I believe that all bases are covered on matters infidelity, don’t you? Should any man feel left out probably because he is unsure where to categorize his wife – maybe she is slightly fat or slightly skinny – please understand that it was not our intention to make you feel that way. We however beg that you don’t despair. The bottom line to all these excuses is in this one statement:

‘He cheats on you because you are his wife’- Use that. Remember to milk it dry.

Now please pass this list urgently to any man out there who is married to the ‘perfect’ woman.

He will need it soon.

 

First Published on the Storymoja Festival Blog

Modern Day Polygamy: Pick A Number

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First it was Linda Muthama. And then Cecilia Mwangi, former Miss Kenya, followed 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.”