Polygamy is just glorified cheating

2017-05-21 07:01

South African television fanatics have, of late, developed new taste buds for reality TV shows. Their appetite is so palpable that, should any task be scheduled parallel to their reality TV show slot, it ain't gon' get done!

I'm extremely elated, however, that their interest is vested mainly on the South African shows... Proudly South African. Take, for instance, Mzansi Magic's Date My Family, Our Perfect Wedding, Papa Penny Ahee, Uyang'thanda na?, and now, the newly televised Uthando Nes'thembu.

Every time these shows are aired, social media goes crazy. The targeted audience, the black middle class in this case, respond so amazingly that the show at play would often trend at the top of social media feeds.

I'm deliberately mentioning the black middle class audience, because, for one to fit in, one needs to not only have money to pay monthly DSTV premiums, but must also afford smart phone and data bundles to keep up with the unfolding stories behind these stories.

That was just a "by the way".

This week, on the new reality show, Uthando Nes'thembu, South Africans were clued to their small screens, awed by the "lucky" man who is blessed with four voluptuous wives. Four, bazalwane! Four!

He has since become the envy of many women who, suddenly, developed a rather different about-turn perception of polygamy. "But it's not as bad as we thought". "If this man wants a fifth wive, I'd jump". These were some of our black sisters' comments.

Expectedly, men felt vindicated, and started  telling women to take tips from this guy's wives. Suddenly, it seemed like polygamy is all good and nice. A new enviable kinda relationship.

This gigantic family looked very happy, living together in harmony. Oh! And it looked wealthy too. The folk bought each of his wives more than one cars, with kids being chauffeured around, and built each of them a mansion. Mansion, bazalwane!

One may immediately be reminded of the most famous polygamous family... the Nkandla family. Whether the family is happy or not, you and I may not necessarily be privy to such classified information. However, the odds dictate otherwise.

This reminds me of one of our former great teacher, the late Professor Sam Mhlongo - the man behind Thabo Mbeki's AIDS denialism. This scholarly medic was married to two white women... my colleagues and I were astonished by his "bravery".

Let us, for a second, switch off our television sets, and look at the actual reality. Not "reality SHOW", but reality. Cut! Cameras off!

Reality is, in general, people in polygamous relationships are, in actual fact, not happy. Children born or raised in polygamous families are, in fact, not happy chaps. Ironically, your first enemy becomes your half-siblings/ step parent/ "wife-in-law". Did I just call it "wife-in-law"? Ladies, what do you call your husband's wife?

Let's simply say it like it is:

Polygamy is just a glorified, legalized cheating. It is the type of marriage in which the man's ego is stroked at the peril of his family. It is a glorified cheating in the sense that, often, a man first cheat, then later decides to lay bare his foul deeds. Of course, I'm aware that we do have some few religions within which a woman (first wife) voluntarily decides for her man to marry another woman.

Still, though, even in this case these women still fight. Take, for instance, the civil war at IPHC's head quarters where the wives of the late bishop Modise continue the wrestle.

While people would say polygamy is okay "for rich people", in reality, rich or poor, peace becomes a very scarce commodity in majority of polygamous families. A polygamous father has to choose when to spend time with which family. Why would anybody opt to be rostered on a monthly schedule as to when to be with her husband? Really? A "locum husband"?

While I'm very much aware that polygamy has always been part of our traditions and cultures, and the fact that our marriage laws do allow it, that does not make it right. Please pardon my moral judgement.

It is very much unfortunate that it is unlikely, for any "wrecked" polygamous family to be screened on a reality TV show, unless there is a script behind the show... a staged one.

I've had opportunity to interact with few men who are in polygamous relationships. They shared with me the actual experiences and facts of their unenviable lives. As much as they say they always loved both of their wives, given a different scenario, they wouldn't go that route.

Let's now talk HIV. Shall we?

Should the man keep on "getting a new wife", that is, cheating again, and happen to contract any form of sexually transmitted infection, HIV included, you and I already know what would happen. Don't we? A genocide! The poor non-cheating spouse would be awaiting her turn, only to receive some unwelcomed infections. At the moment, while South African education, health and economy have been downgraded to junk, HIV prevalence remains at the top. WE ARE NUMBER ONE! And promiscuity is one of the main causes.

While Uthando Nes'sthembu's Musa Mseleku (bless him) lives in peace with his four wives (pun intended), I'd rather pass. There ain't no way I'm marrying the second wife! Haikhona!

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