My excuse? My great-grandfather was a polygamist. However, my grandfather kicked monogamy into our post-modern system. And then growing up to watch a loving monogamous marriage with my parents and having to take the best out of their imperfections, I saw as lessons for the future.
But monogamy though… you wonder. As a bad guy with the right vibes, a strong character, and ambition, you feel polygamy is possible. However, here’s what we need to understand when these thoughts come to our minds; what trade-off are we willing to give away to reestablish this mode of marriage in our society again, and how did we get here in the first place?
Painting a background to polygamy…
According to Wikipedia, Polygamy (from Late Greek πολυγαμία, polygamía, “state of marriage to many spouses”) is the practice of marrying multiple spouses. When a man is married to more than one wife at the same time, sociologists call this polygyny. When a woman marries more than one husband at a time, it is called polyandry.
Polygamy in Nigeria: Did you know that under civil law, Nigeria does not recognize polygamy and polygamous marriages? However, 12 out of 36 states acknowledge polygamy as being equivalent to monogamy. It will also interest you to know that these states all practice Sharia Law and are mostly in Northern Nigeria. Before dismissing such statistics, keep in mind that polygamy, monogamy, polyandry, and other forms of marriage are society, traditions, values, and cultural structures long before they are deemed religious attitudes or ideals.
What I used to think…
Growing up, I have come to learn that the fact we live in this age or time, with all the technological advancement, does not make us any smarter than our ancestors. To be frank, as Nigerian and African, we are at the dumbest and lowest point in our evolution process. We have lost all the values and closeness to the reality that we have ever been, due to foreign and domestic influences. Our cultureless society has left us in a pool of confusion in our essence which has left us in a state where we can’t stand up for anything because we own nothing.
What reality looks like…
What do you see when you examine the 12 Nigerian states that still practice polygamy? Bauchi, Burno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara. Personally, I see a group of people who did not change their system following colonization. Who are still aware of who they are. Others perceive that they refuse to accept civilization because it is technology. Nonetheless, I don’t support female folk being traded as payments for debts or the abuse of the girl-child.
This kind of thinking causes us to perceive our culture as inferior to that of our invaders, entirely disregarding the effort and years it took to build the culture, value system, and beliefs of our once-thriving countries. We are taught to see our forefathers as stupid and to reject their customs, yet we take it to hook, line, and sinker.
As much as we can agree that it was not solely our fault – as modern civilization put us here; we must take responsibility and realign ourselves back to a system that sustains a thriving culture. To rebuild our nation, we need to understand that issues that concern family structure must be integral in our conversations and we have a crucial role to play in re-educating the masses and rebuilding our value system. This will ensure our people – male and female – are in alignment with the trade-offs on a holistic and well-defined set of ideas, values, and culture.
The small picture…
The small picture revolves around sexual preferences, emotional traumas, mental instabilities, toxic masculinity and femininity, cheating, double standards (that exist between both (all) genders), gender roles, equality, constitutional laws, rights, etc. Without a solution-oriented approach, we become caught in the conversational distractions that influence us more emotionally than intellectually in these areas.
Western culture has taken the blurred to the maximum while living in a society designed to favor the group of people who created the system and not those forced to live with the rules. We do not have a framework at the backbone of the African societies we created that holds our system together to benefit us all or as many as possible. This leaves us a ticking time bomb threatening to implode right in the midst of us anytime from now. The lies we tell ourselves, the hypocrisy that eats our souls, the courage we lack to take consistent purposeful action to do better and live better.
Rather, we judge ourselves, like “who never fuck up”. We individually decide our own culture and values, while we try to make sense of living it out. Diversity breeds evolution. Our recent past from 100 years till date has a lot of good it has domiciled within us. Our good fortune is at our grasp if we unlearn what we think we know and relearn our world again from a place of love, understanding, and acceptance. We will see that embracing ourselves and our roots from a place of pride for our ancestors might help alleviate this suffering.
To the men in our society… a modern polygamist…
Men disagree with gender equality today. However, this is the moment for African males to step up. The society we have today is what we have been able to build as a group. It is easy for us to tell our women to take accountability, But we must take responsibility ourselves.
In ancient Igbo culture, Unless you are born in wealth, you must work extremely hard to take as many wives as you choose, based on your capacity to cater to them and their offspring.
In reviewing that, consider the economic situation at the time for women, and their ability to solely cater for themselves. And today where most women are able and capable to taking care of themselves without the aid of a man. These truths must be revisited in order to create a new framework on which all tribes, religions, and intellectual sectors may concur.
A modern man must accept that unity in thought and action is the strength we need to break free from this era of mental degradation. We must take more responsibility for the moral decline in our society. If men did not see sex as a commodity, prostitution would not be the oldest profession in human history.
Women are the way they are today because of a lack of leadership from the home head. As tough as it is to live by, ideals, discipline, and self-respect are essential for effective leadership. We can’t keep promoting our vices over our virtues. For our society to return to normalcy, the gender battles for respect and dignity must stop.
Cut the excesses! focus thinking in productive areas, rather than indulgencies that we can’t account for. We must collectively build justice and fairness. Promote a well-defined culture and value system, so we can reap the benefit of a thriving polygamous society.