Normally, you are either for or against polygamy. I am not particularly invested in either side of the debate. I would not have said anything, except that Gathoni wa Muchomba, the Kiambu Woman Representative, has raised an interesting aspect.
Something that I rarely see when polygamy is discussed from the African perspective. There are three factors are that are important to the debate on polygamy. Men have always been held as the most important of that equation. In fact, as a matter of law, men’s decision are the most important part of the equation.
In 2014, an asinine law was passed that allows men to marry an additional wife without consulting their wives. Polygamy is always lauded for helping men control their libido.
So polygamy is nothing more than legalised cheating. This is because the man who is marrying a second or third wife to satisfy his ravenous sexual appetite does not really love them.
The first wife still remains his favourite, and the other wives are just mistresses. Unless you believe that a man can love all his wives equally.
The second part of the equation is women. Just like the law, Kenyan society totally considers women irrelevant. That’s because we always talk about polygamy. Never anything about a woman’s choice.
The opposite of polygamy never even enters the debate. I am talking about polyandry. If polygamy is such a great thing, perhaps it is time the same privilege is extended to women.
And men. I am sure there are brothers out there who wouldn’t mind having their nagging wives become somebody’s problem for the better part of the week. Imagine the wife spending time with Joe, so that you can catch up on all the Premier League games at the weekend.
Weekends would also be a great opportunity to throw nyama choma parties, where it is just you and the boys. Oh, the joy of it all! It is common knowledge that most Kenyan men can barely handle one woman. It is time we acknowledge that fact, and provide a swift legal remedy for their woes.
Dad The third part of the equation to consider is the children. If African families are dictatorships, and they are, children are that most neglected of minorities.
A woman’s wishes is ignored by the patriarch, but the children have no say whatsoever. It’s the adults who make all the decisions. Here is where Wa Muchomba’s concern for “fatherless” children is to be noted.
But, how good a father a man with five wives would be? He will only be a father in name, making appearances at the head of a very long dinner table, assuming everybody has dinner under the same roof instead of the usual rotation system. “We get Dad on Tuesdays, and you get him on Wednesdays.” Really, who wants a part time Dad? —The writer is a management fellow at the City of Wichita, USA. —@janeksunga