Sunday, November 4, 2012

Two Wives

November 4, 2012

A major article appeared in Sunday's Nairobi newspaper about a Kenyan model who is the second wife of an unnamed member of Parliament. The model said how happy she was to be a second wife. The man was to be revealed after the March Kenyan elections. Other women were also quoted in the article. The article went on to say one reason women become second wives, many secretly, is the lack of stable eligible men. About 10-15% of Kenyan women were at least a second wife, despite a law which forbids polygamy.

One of the drivers for the organization I am with openly had two wives who live together in the same home, dividing up raising his thirteen children. He was a member of the Luhya tribe.

I asked a married woman who works where I was staying whether she was married and what she thought of men having more than one wife. She vehemently said she was against multiple wives. She was a member of the Kukuyu tribe.

I was confused, so I asked my taxi driver this morning to explain. He was a Kukuyu, and said faithful to his wife despite advances from other women.

As best as I could understand, this was how he explained this to me:

A woman became a second wife when she had a man's child or children. If she was a member of the Luhya tribe, having multiple wives was open and well accepted. If she was a member of the Kukuyu tribe, men tended to keep the second wife secret, since Kukuyu first wives were a jealous lot and known to stab their sleeping husbands.

Now problems arise over property, divorces, and splits when women suddenly appear from nowhere claiming support usually with children in tow having the man's characteristics . The courts have some method of handling this if the man decides to fess up rather than pay the customary blackmail money. The taxi driver indicated the woman always wins.

I asked about women who have multiple husbands. We just then arrived at the airport and the question went unanswered.

1 comment:

Teri said...

Interesting! Too bad you arrived at the airport before getting an answer to your query about women who have multiple husbands. I'm curious about the answer. Although if this practice is due primarily to a shortage of stable, available men as it was described to you, I suspect women having more than one husband is a relative rarity.