I remember as a little girl of about 7, my dad and mom would have this mini argument where my dad would jokingly say if my mom acted anyhow, he would marry another wife, he was allowed to since he was a prince. My mother would respond that he could do anything he damn well pleased but he should just be prepared for her to leave his house and take the kids. They were probably joking but to the 7 year old me, the threat was serious and the other woman (even though she wasn’t there at all) was already a threat to me. I remember a day where it was just me and my dad and we were talking, (one thing I loved about my dad was that even when I was that young and probably didn’t understand half of the things he used to say to me, he still spoke them) my fear of having my family separated made me blurt out of nowhere that my father should promise that he would never bring another woman into the house so mommy wouldn’t take us away from him. My dad was dumbfounded but later asked me why I said that. I referred to his and mom’s arguments conversations and how they worried me. Dad laughed and told me that he was always joking and that I should not worry, he would never do such a thing no matter what. Also from that day onward, they stopped making that joke around us kids.
Fast-forward many years later. It was my third year in university and I am sitting in my Black Diaspora Literature class. We had just read Xala (by Ousmane Sembene) and we are discussing the subject of polygamy in our world today. My professor (who goes by Ayo and knows as much as I do about my culture and loves it almost as much) first asked about our views on the subject and we were almost unanimously against it with reasons ranging from ‘I don’t want to share my husband’ to ‘too much drama involved’ to ‘have you seen how it always turns out horrible with everyone hating and plotting each other’s downfall?’. All these reasons were valid but then Ayo brought up another point of view. She gave examples of new age women, degree holders ooo (not stark illiterates or anything like that) who opt to go into a polygamous marriage or (if they are the first wife), ask their husbands to marry a second wife. The reasons she gave were that it drastically reduces the stress on one woman to cook and clean the household and to sex the man whenever he wants it. If one wife is tired or just not in the mood, the other wife can take over and do the wifely duties amongst other things. Also she talked about how the women can actually rule the house. If one wife wants the husband to do something and he is being hard-headed about it, she can get the alliance of the other wife (or wives) and start a coup where the man faces opposition on all sides until he caves. She made some other points and all the things she said actually made sense as I was sitting there but as we all know, it is never that perfect and clear-headed when it comes to issues of the heart and of marriage.
First off, it would be very very very very rare to enter into that sort of marriage where everybody will just get along and will cooperate that well. Also there is bound to be instances where jealousy and insecurities would arise, because maybe the husband is doting on one wife more than the other or something else entirely. Personally, no matter the reasoning, I cannot go into a polygamous marriage because in our culture, it almost never turns out well, coupled with the fact that I am very averse to sharing anything I claim as my own with anyone else. I will willingly pack my stuff and leave the man before I share him with another woman.
I stick by my beliefs and reasoning but I was surprised to meet a woman here in Abuja who is a very successful banker and is well established. Talking to her, she mentioned her little wife and seeing my surprised look, laughed and said yes she is married to a man who has a second wife and went on to list all those same things Ayo had listed about 3 years ago. She said she is loving her marriage and that she loves the freedom it gives her to do her work and anything else she wants to do without worrying that her husband and kids are not been well taken care of. I asked her how she is able to share her man as well as how she is able to live in peace with the other woman to which she laughed and said ‘Omode lo n se e’ (it is youth that is doing you). Basically she loves her life and it is a system that works for her but I am still very skeptical of the whole thing.
So what do you think about polygamy today? Do you buy that educated people are making the choice to enter into it? Do you think you can handle it (male and female)? And do you think it can work out as well as this lady is painting it? Personally, it is 1000% not the thing for me but hey! Some people might be cool with it. Let me know your thoughts 🙂