POLYGAMY: a matter of economics first and foremost

Editor, This letter is a reaction to an article written by Allan Brian Ssenyonga. African polygamy has always been a “female” institution: This reality contradicts the normal perceptions that men are the natural initiators (and primary beneficiaries) of polygamy.
A West African man with his wives. The issue of polygamous marriages isnt simply a black and white issue.
A West African man with his wives. The issue of polygamous marriages isnt simply a black and white issue.

Editor,

This letter is a reaction to an article written by Allan Brian Ssenyonga. African polygamy has always been a “female” institution: This reality contradicts the normal perceptions that men are the natural initiators (and primary beneficiaries) of polygamy.

It is the outwardly passive women who take that decisive step to share their marriage.

In past African generations, the oldest wife actually solicited younger women to join her household and even negotiated the dowry payments.

Polygamy is therefore an important tool for entrenching
matriarchal institutions and power within our societies. The cornerstone of effective polygamy is having a strong and deeply-respected first wife, like Mrs. Sizakele Khumalo Zuma, wife of the South African president.

African polygamy has always been an economic response in Africa: We have no time to consider abstract sexuality because life on this continent is tenuous and survival still goes to the fittest.

Teamwork is therefore paramount and hunting in packs ensures food availability for offspring. Consequently it is not surprising that the majority of African women now choosing modern polygamy come from this economic reality.

Banding together to corner the market -- makes practical common sense for their future.

Polygamy is quite prevalent in the West but with three distinguishing characteristics.  First - our global counterparts practice consecutive polygamy (one man married to different women at different times).

The liberal divorce laws plus the absence of dowry make it easy for people to flirt back and forth without incurring much expenditure.

In conclusion therefore, please do not assume that the morality grass is necessarily “greener” across the neighbor’s fence ...it is just Astro Turf.

Margaret Maringa

Margaret.Maringa@carefirst.com

 

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