You may kiss the next, third, fourth and fifth bride…


A polygamist: President Jacob Zuma with three of his wives, (from left) Nompumelelo Ntuli, Thobeka Mabhija and Sizakele Khumalo. This tradition is accepted in the Zulu culture. Photo credit

Love is a beautiful thing, especially if you have found your soul mate and plan to share the rest of your lives together. That plan does not include other three to five or even in South African President Jacob Zuma’s case, six wives. This tradition of polygamy is still being practiced in many African cultures and while some are against it, some are for it. A polygamist is a man or woman but dominantly and usually it is a man who has more than one wife, yes more than one. This is usually practiced and seen acceptable for men only but why is it so and why do people still practice this?

I am not questioning culture or rebelling against it, if you are a polygamist it’s fine and its your lifestyle but what about those wives being forced to share a husband? What is the difference between marrying other women while still married and cheating? Is it because you have made this public and decided to marry another wife so that you can have the best of many worlds? Why should people subject themselves to such things, is it because culture accepts it, is it because of greed or is it just because you can?

 Sometimes for a man to have a second or even third wife, the relationship starts off as an affair, this brings mistrust, arguments and even diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections in the household. Does this mean because marriage is proposed instead of keeping it a secret, it can no longer be regarded as cheating? When the justice of peace or the pastor introduces a man and woman as husband and wife,they mention that the two are now joined and are one, what about those other women that are to come later in the relationship, do they also make the ‘one’ or does this one have many other sides to it? 

I know many men practice this tradition and some are respected, for instance African kings get to have many different wives and it’s acceptable, but will this be respectable if a woman also has different husbands that she can come home to? This has some double standards to it, when a man marries more than one wife, it shows strength, character and it gives him status in the community, but when a woman has more than one husband, she is loose, she gets insults and it’s a taboo. Sometimes people need to think for all parties concerned, if a woman was to have many husbands and sleep with them all it would be a shame, but if a man has more than one wife and sleeps with them all, he is a champ, he is a real man. 

No one considers the feelings of the wife, she has to accept it because she vowed to be there through thick and thin. Yes through thick and thin, not through ‘being wife number 4’. People are form different households and follow different rules and traditions, so why is it that women are forced to live with each other for the benefit of one man and living with another stranger that they know nothing of. Sometimes tradition is not fair, but then again life itself is not fair itself. Love and marriage is a bond between two people, it’s not a bond between one man and a community of wives. 


Am I African enough?

What is being African? I googled ‘An African’ and what I found were various pictures of different faces, different skin pigmentations and different countries, I didn’t find a specific picture or definition of being an African. Is it a form of lifestyle, is it something we adopted from those before us, is it how we look and percieve each other and ourselves, is it our behavior or is it a state of mind? Africanism is broad but how do people identify it, how do they know if they are being African? I am not talking genetically, I am talking about how we look, behave and live. What are the requirements to show that you are African enough?

Someone said that Africans have lost their ways and are now following western ways. Western ways being the the use of wigs, weaving, wearing make up and following Christianity instead of ancestors. This puzzled me a bit because I thought people had the right to choose which ever religion they want. Does it mean that people who believe in Christianity and God are not African enough, does it mean that ancestral worship makes you African enough? What about those that don’t believe in ancestors, what about those that have been taught that the dead shall remain as the dead and nothing more, not only in South Africa but in Africa as a whole, does it mean that they are wrong?

Another case was of wigs and weaving. I realized that ancient Egyptians used to wear wigs and Egypt being in Africa, doesn’t that make them Africans or are they an exception? These things are not new, even make up, many  African tribes wear face paintings and the kohl (black eye paint) or any form of make up pattern on their faces, does this mean that they were influenced by Mac cosmetics? Does it mean that they are wrong and have forsaken their way of life? They still do, in Kenya some tribes still wear such face paintings, the Ameru tribe and the Kikuyu tribe to name a few.

People are being criticized out there for how they live their lives. Does anyone have a right to go to an African cancer survivor who is wearing a wig and tell them they are not African enough, since being African is how you look and what you wear. We might as well all wear our traditional  clothes (amabeshu and ditshea) instead of suits and jeans, we should forsake technology, no iPhones, no  emails and just send smoke signals as a message, walk barefoot, heard cattle, forget cars, offices, live in thatch houses, school under trees or be home schooled, speak our native languages, re lebale sekgowa (forget English) and forget everything that is modern. That will make it easier to be identified as African won’t it? The only way we can be African or Black is to not adapt and evolve but remain the same.

Being African is about teaching and learning, instead of criticizing why don’t people teach each other of the rich African history and the way of life so that the next generation may teach the coming generation. It is about learning different ways of life and respecting them instead of being high and mighty because you think you know what it is to be an African. It is about giving, loving and accepting. Actually not only Africanism but humanity as a whole, it’s about giving to those that lack, it does not have to be material possessions, it can be respect, it can be love, it can be food, it can be knowledge. What I wear, what I use, what I have on my hair and my religion do not determine how much of an African I am.

what is your clan name?


know your clan name to know your identity. photo by

Are clan names still relevant to the youth? do the have know of their identity? Clan names are praise names that identify and link people to each other through surnames and animals. They are called Izithakazelo in Zulu. It is shocking that many people of our generation do not know their clan names. Different cultures have different clan names which are important in identifying that clan or culture and its origins and yet many people do not care about this. Clan names are part of a person’s identity and not knowing it means one does not know themselves and their identity unless your clan does not have it, which is highly unlikely.

Does lack of knowledge for ones origin mean that they have lost their identity? Does it mean that people have forsaken who they are? See, clan names are an important aspect of the African tradition because they are used to identify different kingdoms and clans, link a person to their origin and are still relevant at funerals, parties and traditional ceremonies and are cited as a form of respect. Does this mean that the next generation will not know what clan names are and their importance in a person’s culture?