Hey guys, hope your week started on a good note.
This is the first post on Viewpoint. I’m sure you are wondering what Viewpoint is all about. Well this is the opinions or “viewpoints” of people on subject matters. Basically I would ask some people their thoughts on a particular issue or matter and post it on my blog for others to see. The aim of this is to realize how people think and to appreciate the diversity of thoughts. Viewpoint is going to be a monthly post and it will would be posted every first Monday of the month, starting this October.
October’s topic is on polygamy. Yes, polygamy. Someone is like, “What about polygamy now?” Well let’s find out.
Note: Please this post is not intended to bash or disrespect anyone or religion.
A brief introduction into what polygamy is and polygamy in Nigeria
Polygamy is a state of marriage to many spouses. It involves marrying more than one spouse. When a man is married to more than one wife at a time, it is called polygyny. When a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, it is called polyandry.
An estimated over three billion people around the world today still believe in polygamy. Polygamy is something that is quite common in most countries in Africa, an example is in Nigeria where polygamy is legal in 12 states out of the 36 states. These 12 states are northern states and governed by Sharia Law. They include the states of Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara (Reference).
In Nigeria, polygyny is the most common form of polygamy, rarely do you hear of polyandry. “Nigeria alone is home to over 40 million polygamists. This figure includes a large population of kings, traditional chiefs, religious leaders, businessmen, government officials, politicians, members of the armed forces and the judiciary. This figure also includes a large population of disabled people, unemployed people and street beggars with an average of 10-60 wives or more and up to 100 children or more per man. Such that, in Nigeria of today, a large population of children do not know their fathers and many fathers cannot account for the number of their children” (Reference).
So I asked a couple of people (total of 15) what they thought about polygamy, who do we blame for polygamy? Is it the man or the woman or what else? Is it justifiable? What do you think about it?
So for the sake of the post, their names have been withheld but these were their replies:
Disclaimer: the opinions here are not mine but of the people I asked.
- Miss. A’s opinion
“It depends. Sometimes it could be due to the fact that the man couldn’t control himself or the wife turns out to be something else and the man can’t cope anymore so he takes in another wife or marries another”.
- Mr. B’s opinion
Mr. B thought that with polygamous marriages, it is more of the man’s decision than of the woman. This is because it’s the men that marry the women and so if one is to point fingers, it’s at the man. Mr. B also added that instead of marrying a second wife, the man can divorce his first wife.
- Miss. C’s opinion
“We need to understand the circumstances that led to the man’s decision. Certain factors have to be put into consideration like, is he a Muslim? Is his wife barren? Is he for some reasons unhappy in his marriage? Also Is he a man of influence? Or maybe he doesn’t have self-control to stick to one woman.”
I further asked if those reasons were good enough and she replied “No they are not. Except he’s a Muslim because it’s permitted and rewarded.”
- Miss. D’s opinion
Miss D thought that it can be either side’s fault. “Men aren’t always satisfied and they want varieties.” In addition, Miss D mentioned that women too tend to trigger their husband with little things the men don’t think matter, driving their husbands to go look outside their marriages.
- Miss. E’s opinion
Miss E was of the opinion that it is dependent on a couple of factors and they could be religion, nature of either spouse (if the wife can’t do her wifely duties or if the husband just has issues that no single woman can satisfy him), and norms of the society.
- Mr. F’s opinion
To Mr. F, there’s no such thing as who’s fault it is or who is to blame, so long as both parties agreed to it, then they are fine with it.
- Miss. G’s opinion
Miss. G said it is both the man and the woman’s fault. “As for the man, I think before a man will go ahead to marry more than one wife, there must be a reason for that. Maybe he is not satisfied with his wife, maybe the wife is lazy, unproductive, and disrespectful, has a bad attitude, can’t dress well or it might also be a family problem or belief system”
- Miss. H’s opinion
Miss. H thought it was the man’s fault and that his first wife had no say in it, the decision is all he’s. To the new wife brought in, it’s partly her fault too, so it’s actually both their faults.
- Miss. I’s opinion
“It depends on the reason for the marriage. Not all reasons are the same, sometimes the reasons can’t be helped”. She also mentioned that the difference between polygamy and cheating is that one is bound by marriage. Before getting married to another wife, something must have happened between the man with a wife at home and this his new wife. Also some men are naturally polygamous and since they feel they can get another wife, they just do to satisfy themselves. “In this case, it’s the man’s fault”. Furthermore, it could be that the wife can’t bear him kids, and since the man would not like to have a child outside marriage, he brings in a second wife who can. Finally some cultures accept it and so because of their culture, they take in more than one wife.
- Mrs. J’s opinion
Mrs. J said its 90% man’s fault and 50% women’s fault. “90% because most men are polygamous, they find it difficult sticking to only one woman, especially when they see a lot of beautiful women out there. Women on the other hand sometimes push the man outside e.g. by nagging, being disrespectful, etc.
Also some young girls out there tempt these men with their way of dressing. Some girls will even tell you they prefer dating married men because they know how to take care of them”. When I asked why women agree to be second, third and so on wives, Mrs. J replied “Well according to what I heard, they say women are more than men, so some of the women feel if they don’t become second wives or so, they might miss their chances of being married. Also, some of them marry as second wives because the man is rich”.
- Miss. K’s opinion
Miss. K was of the opinion that it depended on the situation at hand. It could be the man’s fault and it could also be as a result of religion. Apart from religion, it’s the man’s fault. If there are problems in his marriage, he can work things out or end the marriage before going for another.
- Miss. L’s opinion
“Polygamy is not God’s original plan for man. God’s plan is one man and one woman. I feel it is majorly caused by lust.
In the rural areas, there are polygamous marriages as a result of farming as more hands are needed in the farm (more wives, more children).
Also the Christian religion doesn’t permit it but Islam does.
Polygamous homes most times brings about hatred – amongst the different wives, amongst the children and between mothers and children. It brings about disrespect and jealousy. Rarely would you find polygamous homes where the family live peacefully.
Some men marry more than one wives when they cannot take care of them and if the man can’t cater for his wives, it brings about poverty, disunity, troubles, insecurity and the likes.
To me, polygamy is wrong”.
- Miss. M’s opinion
“I’ll say it’s neither good nor bad. First those engaged in it, are they adults? Did they agree to that type of marriage arrangement? If yes then consenting adults can do whatever benefits them provided it’s not creating harm to the society.
Again, with polygamy, especially with polygyny that tends to produce a large number of children. Can these parents provide for the essential needs of their kids? Will hate, jealousy and envy be little to none in these marriage?
If commitment is almost unattainable with two people, how can more than two be in a committed marriage? It’s unlikely and if a partner is unfaithful, others will bear the consequences.”
- Miss. N’s opinion
“From a religious perspective, I know the Quran talks about marrying woman (orphans) to take care of them but I am very shaky on the subject. You can always render help without actually getting married. Although it also says that they must have reached decision making age (in Nigeria, that’s 21) so at the end of the day it’s up to the girl, the man and the wife he already has at home. Also the Quran says you can marry up to 4 wives if you can take care of them equally which I think it’s also impossible because to take another wife, something must have transpired between you and your first wife.
So from perspective, I can say that it can be both good and bad depending on the parties involved. But from my own personal point of view, I think it’s bad. Divorce and take another wife if you must. Polygamy is for people that are not content”.
- Mr. O’s opinion
“Socio-cultural reasons could justify polygamy or at least polygyny. Most African and Asian communities are socially oriented in the sense that life revolves around the members as a group as opposed to individualistic way of life as exemplified by western culture. So households seem to be large and extended thus making for more wives and children. Moreover, the larger a man’s family the more esteem he garners from the community at large and the higher his social status. Larger families enhances a man’s social ranking and as such polygyny is encouraged.
Although modern medical science does not view a woman undergoing her menstrual cycle as ‘unclean”, and there is no medical or scientific reason why a woman cannot engage in certain activities just because of her menstruation. Many religions such as Islam, Judeo-Christian, and Hinduism etc. see a woman under her menstrual flow as somewhat ‘unclean’. And the African traditional religions are not left out. Traditionally, a woman under her monthly flow was restricted and not really allowed to mingle with the rest of the population, she was not allowed to cook, or have any form of sexual relations with her husband, she was literally an outcast. Therefore it seemed logical to have another wife who would take over ‘wifely duties’ since the chances that both wives menstruating simultaneously is slim.
Finally, in the rural area where income is by farming and people owned large pieces of farm land, the men had to bear more children and to do that, they needed to take in more than one wife.
In the light of these things, it can be said that polygamy is justifiable”.
So there you have it. You might have noticed that there were more females than males. Yes I know that, those were the people available. Next time, I’ll make it 50% males and 50% females or something close. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this. So what are your thoughts on the subject matter? Also, I’d like to know if you’d want to see more of “ViewPoint”. Please don’t forget subscribe to my blog for more.
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