Monogamy, which is the state of being married to one person at a time, has been the system of marriage commonly practised by many Christians in Nigeria and other African countries. However, it has continued to be cited as one of the reasons wives and husbands engage in infidelity. PAUL OKAH asks if a return to polygamy can curb the disastrous consequences of infidelity.
According to online dictionaries, “Polygamy (formed from Late Greek word ‘polygamía’) is the practice of marrying multiple spouses (regardless of gender). When a man is married to more than one wife at the same time, sociologists call this polygyny. When a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, it is called polyandry.”
Decades ago, polygamy was a type of marriage commonly practiced in Nigeria and other African countries, whereby men married two or more wives and didn’t have excuse to engage in infidelity, while it was difficult, if not impossible for African women to be married to more than one husband at a time.
However, with colonisation and “civilisation”, apart from Muslims being permitted to marry up to four wives at a time, many men are literarily forced by religious leaders and legal considerations to stick to one wife, but hide or find excuses to cheat on their wives with numerous girlfriends, side-chicks and other concubines whenever they get tired of their wives.
Though it is common to hear couples accusing one another of infidelity, with divorce cases lingering in courts, cases abound of men murdering their wives or wives murdering their husbands over allegations of infidelity, even as men and women have died in hotel rooms during sexual flings with young men or women.
With fresh facts emerging on a daily basis, the media was awash last week with the news of the alleged murder of 50-year old Super TV CEO, Michael Usifo Ataga, by a 21-year old 300-level student of University of Lagos, Chidinma Ojukwu, in Lagos, in a Lekki apartment rented by the lovers for sex escapades, despite late Ataga being married to a beautiful woman with all the natural endowments any man would wish for in a woman.
Expectedly, news of the murder have been eliciting diverse reactions from Nigerians, with many claiming that Ataga would have been alive today if he was married to more than two wives, instead of restricting himself in marriage to one woman and cheating on her with small girls.
Speaking with this reporter, a social commentator, Mr. Okpo Nnanna Okpo, said a man or a woman should marry more than two wives and two husbands, respectively, if he or she wants to live long.
He said: “The logic that man should restrict himself to one wife, in order to live long, is faulty, because polygamy is still practised in many African societies and even being indulged in by Nigerians, no matter how unofficial. It’s a matter of choice and controllability. Our fore fathers married more than one and themselves and their wives and children lived long. If you stick to one wife, that’s where the side chick thing comes in. We are virtually living in pretence nowadays by pretending to practise monogamy.
“Inasmuch as the choice of a partner was grossly influenced by parents in the olden days, sustaining the marriage was purely the couple’s responsibility and obedience to societal laws. Any man who thinks one woman is not enough for him and he has the capacity should get another one. Let’s stop this pretence and end these untimely deaths in the hands of strange women. There is polyandry too; where a woman gets married to more than one man. Any woman who thinks she has capacity and have willing men, should be allowed to get married to them.”
Also reacting to the issue of infidelity in a monogamous marriage, a blogger and media aide to Bayelsa state governor, Bodmas Kemepadei, who is also an unrepentant advocate for polygamy, after disclosing that his wife permits him to have as many sex partners as possible, advised Nigerians on Friday, June 25, to embrace polygamy, adding that man’s attempt to practice monogamy has led to cheating, heartbreaks, increase in sex drive and death.
He said: “It was 11 years of dating before our marriage. During these times, there were still other babes and she was aware. Yet, patient and we both tolerated nonsense from each other. We got married and it’s been almost two years in marriage. Don’t leave your man for having too many partners. Women should learn to share. I am yet to see a man with only one partner. Men are the same; just find one that is caring, a giver, not a bully and settle down. Nothing dey for waka waka life.
“I reiterate my earlier position, man is polygamous by nature. In man’s self-seeking attempt to practice monogamy, the resultant effects are lies, cheating, heartbreaks, increase in sex drive and possibly death. So, before you crucify Chidinma, please read her confession. Faithfulness to one woman is not a guarantee of not being stabbed.”
A lawyer’s perspective
Speaking with Blueprint Weekend, a legal practitioner, Bright I. Uche, said Africans have been brainwashed to believe that polygamy is evil, Nigerians laws encourage monogamy.
“Infidelity generally does not have a total cure except self control. However, certain practices, which are indigenous to Africa, can help ameliorate infidelity to the lowest level. This is where I strongly preach that we as Africans should not be brainwashed into demonizing polygamy.
“Under the Matrimonial Causes Act, LFN 2004 and Marriage Act, LFN 2004, polygamous marriages are not envisaged, but monogamous marriages (one man, one woman). However, the enactment of those pieces of legislation does not abrogate our traditional or customary practices. In a nutshell, one can still contract marriages in our traditional ways, which permit a man to have as many wives as he can properly cater for.
“It is my belief and which is saliently shared by many, that where our society promotes polygamy, there will be a drastic reduction in infidelity and the dangers presented by the thriving industry of side-chicks will reduce and by extension. The dockets of single ladies, unhappy spouses and broken homes will be grossly depleted,” he said.
What the Bible says
Speaking with Blueprint Weekend, a pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Jahi, Abuja, Pastor Joshua Adekunle, said God does not support polygamy, especially in the New Testament, as a man is expected to be faithful to his wife and vice versa, instead of cheating with men and women outside marriage.
He said: “The Bible is replete with passages that encourage faithfulness in marriage. I don’t believe that there is any church that encourages polygamy as we are no longer in the olden and sinful days of our forefathers whereby they married many wives and lived in unholy unions.
“The Bible is clear in Genesis 2:22-24, which says: ‘The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.
“Again, Matthew 19:4-6 says: ‘And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What, therefore, God has joined together let no man separate.”
“Furthermore, Ephesians 5:32-33 says: ‘This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”