Closer look at polygamy

2017-09-01 06:00
PHOTO: suppliedA polygamous family from Umzumbe that has their own reality show on Mzansi Magic (from left) MaCele, MaKhumalo, Musa, MaYeni and MaNgwabe Mseleku.

PHOTO: suppliedA polygamous family from Umzumbe that has their own reality show on Mzansi Magic (from left) MaCele, MaKhumalo, Musa, MaYeni and MaNgwabe Mseleku.

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AS Women’s Month comes to a fold making way for Heritage Month, local author and cultural activist Irene Myingwa shares her views on a topic that touches intrinsically on both women and cultural heritage, polygamy.

Myingwa, who has researched and discussed the topic in her book Amagugu asendulo, said polygamy in modern age was “complicated”.

Isithembu [polygamous marriages] used to be a viable tradition back in the day as families were able to share their lives and responsibilities however in this day and age, there are a lot of factors at play which complicate the institution,” said Myingwa.

These factors she said included the modern cost of living, jealousy among the different households and HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted illnesses which were previously not an issue.

“In as much as a man might take all these many wives, there is that one that they tend to favour more than the others and regard as their soul mate.

“Back in the day the other wives, which are not favoured, used to persevere through all that, satisfied only with the assurance that their family was also taken care of. These days women are educated and modernised and have a whole different value system,” said Myingwa.

She said, also unlike previously, today family feuds were not resolved within the household because families in polygamous marriages now lived separate lives in sometimes different cities.

“While it is favourable for children and for most household to be part of a polygamous marriage rather than to be bastardised as many men do these days, polygamous marriages require a lot of money and the husband must also have the emotional maturity to be able to handle all his wives. This is why polygamy today is only mostly practised in royal households or really wealthy families,” said Myingwa.

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