Polygamy no excuse for illegitimate children: Zulu experts

2010-02-04 07:47

FATHERING illegitimate children is frowned upon in the Zulu culture of

polygamy, experts said today. President Jacob Zuma has finally admitted he is

the father of Sonono Khoza’s daughter.

But phone calls to Zuma’s spokesperson went unanswered, while the ruling

African National Congress said this week that Zuma’s relationship with Sonono

Khoza, the daughter of football boss Irvin Khoza, was a private matter.

Cultural expert Ndela Nelson Ntshangase said a married Zulu man was

permitted to date another woman – but having a child out of wedlock was not on.

“The married man may not need any permission from the wives to start the

process of ukushela (courtship). Once he does, and the wives are keen to know

about it, then he may reveal the relationship.”

However, wives would often choose not to know about the affair and would

let it be, said Ntshangase, who is a Zulu lecturer at the University of

KwaZulu-Natal.

In many cases, the wives only start asking for an explanation if the

affair starts affecting the family’s life.

But if the man decides he wants to marry the woman he is having an

extramarital affair with, his wives must agree to it first, said Ntshangase.

“It may also happen that it is the wife who sees the need for a man to

share a particular girl. She sees the need for her husband to ukushela a

particular girl and here the wife is going to mastermind this.”

There is a great emphasis on family values in Zulu culture and the

importance of children growing up with both parents. This is why a relationship

leading to the birth of an illegitimate child is not acceptable.

Polygamy allows all children to be born into a family, to have access to

both parents, unlike an illegitimate child.

If a child is born out of wedlock the illegitimate child is in a

vulnerable position, she is standing on a slippery slope because the child is

born into a broken family, said Ntshangase.

“Hence, the culture has forbidden all those things. It’s better to

become the fourth wife or the second wife, for the sake of the children as

well.”

The Times published a copy of the birth certificate for Thandekile

Matina Zuma, who is Zuma and Khoza’s four-month-old baby.

The document asks, “Are the parents of the child married to each other”

and the reply is “Yes”. Under “nature of marriage” the box next to “customary”

is ticked.

The document is stamped January 19, more than three months after the

birth of the baby.

Professor Sihawu Ngubane, also from the University of KwaZulu-Natal,

said a customary marriage became official as soon as the couple made an oath

before an induna.

“What is important under the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act is

that the man must be able to take care of all the wives,” said Ngubane.

The payment of lobolo did not conclude a customary marriage, he added.

“Lobolo is just an agreement between two families on the intent to be

married ... The marriage is recognised in law when you make an oath before the

induna (chief).”

Ntshangase said with the birth of a child out of wedlock, inhlawulo

(damages) must be paid.

The minimum amount for this would be equal to the cost of two cattle and

one goat, but could in some instances end up being much more.

Gender and cultural expert Nomboniso Gasa said it seemed that Zuma’s

extramarital affair took place beyond the cultural norm.

“This issue is not about whether the man is a self-proclaimed

polygamist.

“Even by the standards of polygamous arrangements, the latest

revelations raise many questions,” she wrote in the Sowetan newspaper.

“Polygamy does not require an intimate liaison of the kind that produces

a child.”

 

FATHERING illegitimate children is frowned upon in the Zulu culture

of polygamy, experts said today, as rumours about President Jacob Zuma’s love

child refused to die down.

Newspaper headlines were unforgiving this morning, with The Star

claiming, “huge pressure on president to talk about love-child”, while The Times

suggested a customary marriage had already happened.

But phone calls to Zuma’s spokesperson went unanswered, while the

ruling African National Congress said this week that Zuma’s relationship with

Sonono Khoza, the daughter of football boss Irvin Khoza, was a private

matter.

Cultural expert Ndela Nelson Ntshangase said a married Zulu man was

permitted to date another woman – but having a child out of wedlock was not

on.

“The married man may not need any permission from the wives to

start the process of ukushela (courtship). Once he does, and the wives are keen

to know about it, then he may reveal the relationship.”

However, wives would often choose not to know about the affair and

would let it be, said Ntshangase, who is a Zulu lecturer at the University of

KwaZulu-Natal.

In many cases, the wives only start asking for an explanation if

the affair starts affecting the family’s life.

But if the man decides he wants to marry the woman he is having an

extramarital affair with, his wives must agree to it first, said

Ntshangase.

“It may also happen that it is the wife who sees the need for a man

to share a particular girl. She sees the need for her husband to ukushela a

particular girl and here the wife is going to mastermind this.”

There is a great emphasis on family values in Zulu culture and the

importance of children growing up with both parents. This is why a relationship

leading to the birth of an illegitimate child is not acceptable.

Polygamy allows all children to be born into a family, to have

access to both parents, unlike an illegitimate child.

If a child is born out of wedlock the illegitimate child is in a

vulnerable position, she is standing on a slippery slope because the child is

born into a broken family, said Ntshangase.

“Hence, the culture has forbidden all those things. It’s better to

become the fourth wife or the second wife, for the sake of the children as

well.”

The Times published a copy of the birth certificate for Thandekile

Matina Zuma, who is Zuma and Khoza’s four-month-old baby.

The document asks, “Are the parents of the child married to each

other” and the reply is “Yes”. Under “nature of marriage” the box next to

“customary” is ticked.

The document is stamped January 19, more than three months after

the birth of the baby.

Professor Sihawu Ngubane, also from the University of

KwaZulu-Natal, said a customary marriage became official as soon as the couple

made an oath before an induna.

“What is important under the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act

is that the man must be able to take care of all the wives,” said Ngubane.

The payment of lobolo did not conclude a customary marriage, he

added.

“Lobolo is just an agreement between two families on the intent to

be married ... The marriage is recognised in law when you make an oath before

the induna (chief).”

Ntshangase said with the birth of a child out of wedlock, inhlawulo

(damages) must be paid.

The minimum amount for this would be equal to the cost of two

cattle and one goat, but could in some instances end up being much more.

Gender and cultural expert Nomboniso Gasa said it seemed that

Zuma’s extramarital affair took place beyond the cultural norm.

“This issue is not about whether the man is a self-proclaimed

polygamist.

“Even by the standards of polygamous arrangements, the latest

revelations raise many questions,” she wrote in the Sowetan newspaper.

“Polygamy does not require an intimate liaison of the kind that

produces a child.”


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