The Star (Nairobi)

17 November 2012

Kenya: Modern Polygamy Disgusting

Music video by Linda Muthama performing Siku Njema. ( Resource: Linda Muthama - Siku Njema

opinion

Cecilia Mwangi and Linda Muthama have gone public with being 'modern and educated women' who have volunteered to be second wives. Hmm...

Ms Muthama named her husband (Walter Mongare a.k.a Nyambane) while Ms Mwangi declined to name the MP she has been married to for five years.

Marriage by definition necessitates a public declaration of union so Ms Mwangi, I suggest you check the state of your union.

According to an article published in the Daily Nation on November 3, 13 per cent of married Kenyan women have co-wives so Ms Muthama is not alone and polygamy is not as antiquated as we might have thought.

Hmmm... so many questions come to mind: what do the first wives think? Once you are wife number two, does that mean that you are okay with wives number three and four being brought into the family?

How do you relate to wife number one? There used to be a protocol and the wives and children of one man lived in close proximity of each other. What does that look like in Nairobi in 2012?

To me, polygamy is not simply outdated because Christianity came in and told our fathers that they could and should live differently. It is outdated because modern society (with its various influences) idealises a different kind of marital union: one that is based on teamwork, parity and a deep level of intimacy and friendship between one man and one woman.

This union is typically created through dating and mutual choice. Speaking of dating, the pursuit of wife number two in 2012 necessitates that your husband continues to date. It means that at any given time during your marriage, he is 'available' to other women.

This availability has financial, sexual, and time implications. Arguably, once a man is married, these are family resources that he is spending on mistresses. And what are you supposed to be doing while your man hunts?

Raising his children, building him a home, supporting him as he strives to achieve his career goals? Should you also be the shoulder to cry on when one of his 'girlfriends' breaks his heart?

Marriage is not simply about sex. In the Nation article, Cecilia Mwangi arrogantly states, '"As long as he is taking care of the other family I am OK," she said. "If he considered abandoning them for me then that would be the end of us." Hmmm...

I call this arrogant because history shows that it is only a matter of time before she is on the other side of 'hotness' and he introduces wife number three.

Wife number one, wants to believe that she and her husband are financial equals or at least members of the same financial team, so does she have a say regarding how you cater for the children in marriage number two?

How about the number of children you can have because jumping from one kid to four has a direct impact on the type of universities her kids can go to, how much you can spend on a house, health care and any number of things.

When you tally all these things up, trust me even an MP's salary can only split so many ways and still be considered substantial. Modern day polygamy is inherently deceitful, if not for wife number two, definitely for wife number one.

Traditional polygamy involved people getting into a union that they always believed would be polygamous. Dating as we know it did not exist and HIV had not shown its ugly face.

I think if would-be polygamists declared their intentions to wife number one, on date number three, that would be a different cup of chai. But right now we have husbands vowing one thing in churches then breaking those vows entirely.

I don't think any educated modern women would volunteer for a union that exposed her to such high risk in all spheres from health to finance and of course social standing.

It also means she is raising her children alongside a mistress a.k.a. a woman of questionable morals who just happens to have graduated to wife status. It disgusts me.

As the Linda Muthamas and the Cecilia Mwangis try to glamourise their sexually promiscuous choices after the fact, can they please be clear that they are the co-creators of the first wife's hell and though they may have found a way to make peace in this situation, polygamy is never the dream of any modern or educated woman worth her salt.

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