Monday, March 06, 2006

On polygamy

Seeing the guys in the hotel with their young things at the weekend has made me think again about the issue of polygamous practice in Nigeria. It seems to me it is yet one more layer of hypocrisy that married men with jobs (large and small), who regularly spout on about God etc also have the moral flexibilty of allowing themselves to sleep with girls who are oftentimes around the same age as their daughters. In other words, there are three issues that interest me:

1. How men who like to express their faith yet do not see a contradition with being non-monogamous
2. How men who have not made an agreement of an open relationship with their wives can nonetheless be polygamous
3. How men can sleep with women the same age as their daughter (ie half their age or more)

The only way I can begin to understand these three points is in terms of hypocrisy and unchecked desire. In a way, it is obvious why Nigerian men love their country so much: pussy is available in vast, continuously renewing proportions. There is always yet another pretty young girl struggling to pay school fees or support a younger brother etc etc. So there is always an "Aristo" (the local term for an older man who plays/preys on young women) available who will take care of her, so long as "she takes care of me."

My interest is focused on Christianity (yet again). This is because elsewhere, Christianity places a strong taboo against polygamy, as well as because there aren't such taboos against polygamy in either Islam or traditional religious practice. The question is, why does a tacit polygamy circulate amongst Christian Nigerian men? Is it that polygamous practice and expectations outweigh any Christian moral layer? Or is it more simply that men will do (as anywhere in the world) whatever they can get away with? Perhaps it is some combination of the two.

In all this I circulate around without yet articulating a central point: that many (most?) women in Nigeria are in a position of economic dependency on men. Patriarchy isn't simply an abstract concept - it lives and breathes through the pores of existence. Patriarchy means that young women (and most women)without a solid means of income in some kind of financial need will offer themselves up for sex, either explicitly through prostitution, or tacitly, through hanging out with Aristo types or marrying into wealth and status. Patriarchal power is so pervasive here - the media parades powerful men (politicians, biz tycoons, bankers etc.) - that for many women their only access to power or wealth is through the male body (father, uncle, husband, lover etc.) Until women become economically empowered patriarchy will be the order of the day. Now, this does not mean that you don't have an Aristo phenomenon in the West, on the contrary. And yet, the choices available to many women here are so incredibly limited they spend their lives being vulnerable to predatory males. It's quite sad really.

For more thoughts on patriarchy, power and challenging the status quo, read a recent piece on Black Look's blog.


Anonymous,  3:54 pm  

so what we don't see a contradictions between christianity and polygamy? In a society where there is no social welfare, isn't it better that we have at least some men willing to help these young ladies? If African societies had to rely on the likes of you, women will surely parish.

Sometimes, I wonder if you are a man or a mouse!! Why this constant defend of women? Is it that there is a woman fighting to come out and you feel aggrieved by what men do to real women? Yes, most of us AFrican men are polygamous, but you've to remember it takes too to tango, jeremy. Have you seen some of the ways these women push themselves on the men. Women have to get some of the blame.

Why do you always have to provoke? Why do you feel the need to criticise the way we do things? First it was poor old Hafast, now it is polygamy. Is there anything you like about AFrican way of life.


Nkem 4:56 pm  

Here we go again. How does Jeremy not being African preclude him from commenting on the "African way of life"? What the hell is the "African way of life" anyway? You can't talk about a Nigerian way of life, let alone an African one. Is the Nigerian way of life the polyandry which exists among the Tiriki peoples in the Jos plateau area, or is it the polygamy we all know about?

The only thing Jeremy is provoking is thought, and Nigerians are ridiculously averse to thought. You appear to be suggesting that there's nothing wrong with rich old Nigerian men sleeping with fecund young women, so long as they're paid for it. This is prostitution by any other name. Nothing wrong with prostitution, it's the terms of the agreement that are inequitable. The young women have few choices but to splay their their legs for these Aristos, and that's what Jeremy is talking about.

But in some perverse sense, you think the viagra'd old men are performing some good societal deed. Come off it Alex.

Anonymous,  5:52 pm  

Alex, polygamous men must come to terms with a simple yet powerful mathematical connundrum: that for all the women that one man sleeps with, some of those women will be other men's wives. Therefore, given that there is more or less 50% men and 50% women in Nigeria, it stands to reason that if polygamy is as widespread as is often believed, your wife/girlfriend may well be having an affair with at least one other man!

It is hard to think you are seriously saying this kind of unequal relationship is justified. I think you are not serious.

Before anyone else jumps on Alex's bandwagon about whether Jeremy should be writing this, don't bother starting that debate. Focus on the content of what he is saying - women must become economically empowered.


Kemi,  6:53 pm  

Why do you always have to provoke? Why do you feel the need to criticise the way we do things?

I am amazed that Alex, presumably a human being who can read and write, would ask this question.

If people did not provoke and criticise we Africans would still be slaves in and outside our own land.

Whenever I hear a practice being justified just because it is "the african way", I know instinctively that there is something wrong with that practice.

I don't know what makes Alex think that the average woman would rather sleep with a fat, old disgusting pot-bellied freak (probably carrying AIDS after having sex with so many women) with money than someone her own age.

It is people like him who send their daughters to Italy to prostitute themselves. After all, that too is the African Way of Life.

chief kokosari-ade,  10:25 pm  

I think there is a bit of confusion here. Is jeremy and others condemning men with ligitimate wives- legallly married in the traditional sense and living in harmony- irrespective of whatever others who are religiously opposed to the practice are saying...? Or are we condemning married men who cheat on their wives irrespective of the excuse of small girls...?
Because, there is a remarkable difference b/tw a polygamous practice and the 'ashawo' girls and men with pot-belly thing. Lets draw a line!

Akin 12:21 am  


I like the way you stir the hornets' nest, you always hear from those who get stung.

You touch on a number of crucial points necessary for the emancipation of womanhood.

As a religious aside - Man and woman were created equal until sin brought the judgment of the woman's desire being towards the man.

Since then, society and religion has dominated and domineered woman very much to the detriment of society.

Christianity in Nigeria has never really been the strict variety of the Western Calvinism or those similar creeds.

Many combine animist beliefs with religious service, or how do you explain the Ogun sacrifices to bless a new a car?

Women need to stand up and speak up for themselves, we men have to support the fact that we have half a world of resources exploited to ill ends rather than appreciated for their intellectual and societal significance.

However, many have suffered privations when they have followed the moral principles of not falling prey to wealthy sexual predators.
But that is becoming less of the case hopefully.

All the gentlemen of my father's generation who studied together in the UK in the 1960s all now have 2nd wives - when I last counted.

Something in society just makes this unfortunate situation thrive along with domestic violence.

The whole thing turns into a mess when a grandchild is older than the uncle and you find that you have to use the respectful plural to address your step-mother who wasn't in primary school when you started university.

Anyway, your commentary is good tinder for a debate that should set aflame a serious societal malaise and consign it to ashes.



JJ 3:37 am  

splendid writing and thought provoking. funny enough, Ariztos has many meaning!

good stuff.

Anonymous,  8:44 am  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TRAE 7:41 pm  

Akin said...
All the gentlemen of my father's generation who studied together in the UK in the 1960s all now have 2nd wives - when I last counted.

my brother i'm not suprised. when we're kids we have this sweet dream of falling madly in love, getting married and living happily ever after monogamously. but at the end of the day we just can't seem to overcome temptation...that tight ass, preety face, great chest; what a shame. i give it up to strong and focused guys like Jeremy.

Anonymous,  7:38 pm  

Jeremy or whoever he is should just leave us African men alone to enjoy what God has given us, which is plenty of pussy on offer!

I am 26yrs old and I lived in the USA for 8yrs suffering the indignities of women's lib until I visited Nigeria after graduation and realized that this was the heaven I was looking for! To think I had spent all that time in Atlanta grovelling for beautiful women when all I had to do was move to Abuja and enjoy to my hearts content.

The world is a free for all. Go to America and see what Black men are suffering at the hands of women. All of us are bad. Everybody should just do whatever they have to do to enjoy themselves and then die.


chris 4:25 am  

great blog. u touched on a touchy subject, u can tell by the comments of the men who like to prey on young girls or see nothing wrong with it. especially christian men who are justifying fornication and adultry....but that happens here in the states as well, but in the states its called rape or statutory rape (having sex with someone under 18) and you go to prison for it. yes women need to be economically empowered. keep the thought provoking post up.

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