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 http://www.bdlive.co.za
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.