(By OYUNGA PALA) The country is in the midst of multiple crises. Rampant crime, terrorist threats, relentless poachers, grand corruption et al but parliament, our elected leaders decided they have other pressing matters at hand. Why can’t a man be allowed to marry a second wife if he wants to? The defensive arguments that follow are juvenile with the typical scape goats of African culture and bible verses thrown in as irrefutable proof. The proponents of African culture and fans of King Solomon, managed to successful make an amendment to the marriage bill with a clause that will allow a married man to enter into marriage with another woman without the first wife’s consent.
Some critics argued that Parliament is trying to undermine our monogamous bliss by slipping polygamy through the back door. They obviously do not understand our MPs. Parliamentarians only look out for their self-interests and they just enacted a law that allows them to marry their mistresses without the messy procedure of getting a divorce first. Divorce is tricky because it involves sharing wealth with a woman you disagreed with and that is a scenario that had to be avoided at all costs.
Those who argue that polygamy threatens the stability of family structure are exaggerating. The family is indeed the basic unit of society but its definition is fluid not limited to a nuclear unit. A similar argument can be leveled that enforced monogamy is threatening the institution of family and has led to an unprecedented rate of marriage abandonment and a proliferation of single parent households. We are a society that swears by the rule of serial monogamy. You can have us many wives as you want as long as it is one at a time.
In reality, the push towards polygamy would only benefit high status males, capable of providing for multiple wives. The ability to maintain multiple women is in itself a status symbol. But we are not talking about recreational sex and lust. To be actually married to multiple women and remain committed to providing emotional and financial support is not for the fainthearted. Polygamous marriages follow the evolutionary principle of survival of the fittest. Men who prove ability to be good fathers, husbands, providers, leaders will always have women competing for their attention. To assume that women have a problem sharing a man is flawed. Many have made that choice and continue to make that choice.
Historically, men controlled the purse strings and marriages were thus viewed as business arrangements that were designed to produce heirs and accumulate wealth. That changed. Marriage for love is now the new standard which is why ‘we kiss the bride’ in-front of multitudes and declare our affection in a public ceremony.
However, routinely henpecked regular Joes have no illusions about the pecking order in contemporary marriage. It is a lot easier to sneak around and deal with the consequences of infidelity when you eventually get caught.
Therefore, the argument of a man’s right to choice of marriage has to apply equally to women. There are several women who would advocate for multiple male partners to cater for their varied needs in a marriage but this society would never accent to that because it is not biblical and more importantly Un-African.
Polygamy isn’t the issue here. The big pink elephant in the room is adultery.
Parliamentarians are just trying to legitimize extra marital affairs.