I don’t see myself in a polygamous marriage

Date: January 12, 2010
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My name is Isabella Jaime and I am a 20-year-old Grade 12 student living in Maputo. My father is a traditional healer who has five wives and more than 18 children, though he could have more children and wives who are not known to the family.

Since he became popular 15 years ago, he has had several offers of women. Sometimes, when he treats people who cannot pay, they offer him a wife in the place of money.

Although I have grown up in the family where my father had pride in his polygamous status, I cannot imagine myself getting into my mother’s shoes by marrying a man who has other wives, or will think of himself as being a polygamist.

I detest the idea, because I have seen how his wives suffer because he cannot meet their needs. For us children, it was only a lucky few who managed to go to school.

Our father never gave us the love that children should get from their fathers. When he was not away on his endless healing errands, he would be busy rotating around houses of his wives. At times, we would not know where he was for a week.

It is a bad experience that I would not want to happen to my children and me. I would like to be always together with my children and husband, in good or bad times.

What I also detest in a polygamous marriage is the fact that women are sort of put in competition with each other, as each woman vies to attract the attention of the husband. It is because of this competition that many women die of being either poisoned or otherwise murdered by the wives of her husband.

I have seen these cases happening in my rural home, where a woman was hacked to death by the third wife of her husband. The argument happened after the women had a disagreement on how to use money their husband had given them to buy food and clothing for their children.

With examples like these, I feel men who decide on having polygamous marriages want to make women and children suffer. I have seen how children in polygamous marriages are never happy, because for a child to grow up and be happy he or she needs to be living with both their parents.

The problem that I have seen in Mozambique is that most people still think in the past and that is why they justify polygamous practices.

I would lead the debate in Mozambique on anti-polygamous marriages in Mozambique if I had the resources to mobilise people or even petition parliament to approve a law that will prohibit a man from marrying more than one wife.

Isabelle Jaime writes with with Fred Katerere, a freelance writerin Mozambique. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service, which offers fresh news on every day news.

0 thoughts on “I don’t see myself in a polygamous marriage”

Linda says:

My name is Linda and was unfortunately born from a polygamistic relationship. I am now 30 and my father died when I was 12. Life was not ideal but because we did not know any better, it was normal. My mother was the younger wife and when my father died, we were left with nothing. No money for food and worst nothing saved up for our education. The normallity of the situation changed and the older wife who was civil when my father was still alive and my other siblings pretended not to have ever known us. At the funeral we were sitting quietly at the back and left before anyone noticed us. From that day on, life changed. Even though my father was juggling a business and two households, he was there and alive.
I feel like I have been disadvantaged as compared to my other siblings. 18 years later, I have my own family and I am doing well finacially in my own right but I can never erase the emotional scars that I have dating back to my childhood. I have questions that no one is willing to answer.
Polygamy is not a good idea no matter how much people can justify it. Culturally we need to move forward and understand that it might have worked in the stone age, but in this day and age there are too many demands on a person to be able to meet all the wives and kids needs.
I still look at myself and think I am more fortunate because my mother is educated and she managed to take us to school.

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