Home Expositions ANTI-POLYGAMY by Maître Jammy

ANTI-POLYGAMY by Maître Jammy

I will not swallow phlegm in the name of decorum. I have read absurd things people say all in the name of advocacy, trying to be more humanitarian than humanity. I was taken aback when some persons launched a campaign against polygamy. It is tagged “Say No To Polygamy, Humanity First”. I find it hilariously ridiculous to decipher what really makes a polygamous marriage a threat to humanity. If Polygamy were a threat to humanity, what would bestiality, homosexuality, polyandry, misogyny, misandry, celibacy, transsexual marriage be? That is the length people can go to put forth nonconstructive arguments all in the name of advocacy.
Polygamy, according to Oxford Dictionary of Law is: “the practice of having more than one spouse.” What this writer intends is polyandry not polygyny. A man is capable and he is allowed to marry more than one wife in Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa communities. The truth is that monogamy is not indigenous to Nigerian culture. So, believing in the supremacy of monogamy over polygamy is a form of neocolonialism. English law considers a marriage ACTUALLY POLYGAMOUS if there is in fact more than one spouse, and POTENTIALLY POLYGAMOUS if there is only one spouse but the marriage is contracted under a system of law that permits polygamy. No polygamous marriage may be validly contracted in England. But then, that is in England. This is Nigeria! 
To start with, legally speaking, no Law in Nigeria, I repeat, no Law in Nigeria, proscribes Polygamy even the English Law recognises it. Nigeria Legal System is tripartite. In respect of marriage, there is marriage under the Act, Customary Law Marriage and Islamic Law Marriage. You may want to know why Bigamy (marrying two wives at a time) is an offence under Section 370 of Criminal Code Act and Section 47 of Marriage Act. Bigamy is not an offence under Customary Law Marriage nor under Islamic Law Marriage. It is only an offence when one contracts marriage under the Act. What our people erroneously call Church Marriage or Court Marriage. In fact, in the case of ASIATU v GONCALLO, the facts were substantially set straight. The court held that a subsequent marriage under the Act after an Islamic marriage had earlier been contracted could not prevent a man from taking another wife. One of the reasons adduced by the court was that, Nigeria is not a Christian country and by Customary Law or Islamic Law Marriage, a man can legally have several wives. 
I might have bored you with the Law. But, that is the Law. The point here is that, no matter what, no advocacy can make what is lawful, unlawful and what is good, evil and vice versa. Also, not everyone in Nigeria is a Christian, not even everyone follows Biblical prescription of monogamy. Condemning and insulting people who subscribe to polygamy is an attempt to breach their right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as envisaged under Section 38 of Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as altered and Section 10 which declares that Nigeria is a secular state.
Historically, polygamy is part of Nigerian culture. Aristocratic men, the kings, wealthy men, theocrats, farmers, griots, et cetera, married more than one wife as to give birth to more children in order to raise more hands on their large farms or to defend their dynasties. Besides that, barrenness, infertility, female infanticide, untimely deaths of infants, desire for male issues among others, made men take another wife. That was what brought about woman-to-woman marriage (not lesbianism) in Tiv culture and even in Igbo culture. You can see the verdict of Supreme Court in MERIBE v. EGWU . As Professor A A Oba, an advocate and enthusiast of customary laws, says, “Don’t look at the norms, look at the rationale behind the norms”. Nigerian cultures do not permit polygamy for the fun of it, there are underlying reasons. If you do not see such reasons reasonable enough because you feel Western education has made you much wiser than our predecessors, no one can help you. 
As Plato (the Greek Philosopher) would say, women were mere chattels. He was quite right because back then, women were given as gifts. Betrothal of women was used to settle communal strife. It was a sense of respect, great prestige and dignity for the royals to have more than one wife. You can read the ecstasy of Baba Segi in _The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives_ written by Lola Shoneyin. It is evident that the arrival of Christianity reduced the practice of polygamy. The British missionaries threatened the earliest converts and warned them against Polygamy. This is evident in the book _Potter’s Wheel_ by Chukwuemeka Ike. When Teacher Zaccheus is ordered to stick to her barren wife. He is threatened to be sacked from teaching if he takes another wife. If I am boring you with Literature, and not real life situations, don’t forget that Literature mirrors our life.
Religiously, Islam specifically states that “marry one wife…” Qur’an says in Suratul Nisai verse 3 “Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then ONLY ONE…” (Emphasis). Allah knows men can never be fair and just to women so Allah says in verse 129 of the same Chapter that “You are never able to be fair and just as between women….”
The implications of the foregoing is that Islam does not condemn monogamy (sticking to one wife) but it also permits polygamy on the conditions that the man will be fair and just between or among the wives. What they call Potentially Polygamous Marriage in England (having one wife but taking another is not condemned). Dr Zakir Naik says: “In earlier times, Christian men were permitted as many wives as they wished, since the Bible puts no restriction on the number of wives. It was only a few centuries ago that the church restricted the number of wives to one.” If you doubt those two scriptural Books, I will not have any fear for, he who doubts the existence of God’s words shall doubt the fidelity of his mother. 
Statistically, there are more females than males in the world. Reasons are the average lifespan of females is more than that of males. “In USA, women outnumbered men by 7.8 million. New York alone has one million more females as compared to the number of males, and of the male population of New York one-third are gays. Great Britain has four million more females as compared to males. Germany has five million more females as compared to males. Russia has nine million more females than males.” Having this in mind, if every man is to take a woman each, what will happen to other women? Will they get husbands? Except you are advocating homosexuality or celibacy or adultery, monogamy is not practicable especially in Africa particularly in Nigeria.
Lastly, one thing I have observed from anti-polygamy advocates is that they tend to appear like female apologists. Trying to play to the gallery since they know polygamy is one of the statuses women abhor with passion. So, they want to appear as the perfect gentlemen. Don’t be hypocritical! These anti-polygamy advocates also argue subjectively and not objectively. William Shakespeare says nothing is good nor evil, our mind makes them so. If the polygamous marriage you experience, most of the wives are witches and kill one another’s children. That does not rule out the fact that in other polygamous marriage, the women are angels. I have a lot of experience about good stepmothers and peaceful polygamous families. Monogamy has its evils just as polygamy has its. I believe no human seeks happiness in the sadness of others. If polygamy has a lot of problems, someone should tell me what is not problematic in life. In fact, not having a problem in life is a problem on its own.
I am not a fan of polygamy but this does not give me the right to condemn it nor do I think it is evil. I am an advocate of Potentially Polygamous Marriage (take one woman but retain the right to take more if you desire so and are mentally, financially, and emotionally capable).

©Maître Jammy

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