We are made to believe that men are naturally polygamous. Or maybe this is true about African men. Rooted deep within African marriage practices, having more than one wife was the best thing a man could do to prove how wealthy and capable he was of feeding and clothing his surplus prizes.
Yes prizes. Women were prizes that were bought with cattle and gifts to the bride’s parents. The more cattle you had, the more wives filled your homestead and the higher your social rank rose. The women never had a say in marriage matters, if a man liked what he saw, he ‘put a ring on it’. An African woman marriage warranty lasted as long as she was well provided for and if she could bare a hoard of children before her eggs ran dry and disappeared at menopause.
African women who got pregnant by their lovers outside the traditional marriage were;
- stoned to death in some communities,
- the illegitimate child was left in the forest or wilderness to be eaten by wild animals or drowned.
- The woman was married off to an old man
- The man responsible for the pregnancy was forced to marry the woman.
- Both man or woman were tied to a tree and whipped by every village elders and their parents
- Excommunication from the clan.
These were the various forms of punishment the youth received for breaking their sexual purity in different African communities.
Since the introduction of Christian laws where one wife is required and Islam that permits up to four wives, both women and men have found ways to retain their polygamous nature and desires.
Here are some examples as to why many women agree to be the ‘other woman’ in a man’s life:
Hi there, i am Sabina.
I met him through my close girlfriend Rachael. We were in a club having fun dancing and drinking when he came over to where i stood and struck a conversation with us. I didn’t know that Rachael had called him up the day before and told him of her single friend who ‘needed’ someone to ease her broken heart. I had just walked out from a four year broken relationship with my college boyfriend and i wanted to let go of all the pain and hurt i harboured inside me.
He was tall, handsome and very brown almost yellow. His face had a full beard cut and shaped to flatter his square jaw and full lips. He had a full head of low cut hair but thick enough for an afro comb to run through. He was just perfect. Rachael excused herself to the bar where a random man immediately perched himself to her side as she ordered a drink. We sat at an empty table and our conversation leveled up to more personal details. His name was Jake. Jake worked as a mechanical engineer at well known government company and he seemed loaded with cash since he kept ordering the most expensive drink each time he finished his glass. We laughed and smiled at each other, talked some more about me and our messed up love lives.
He was a good listener with such an adorable smile that made me glow with excitement knowing that he was really loving what was coming out of my mouth. At the end of the night, i gladly gave him my number and if he had asked me for my ATM pin number at that moment i would have given it to him with no second thoughts. With constant communication between us, our friendship grew stronger and so did that inner feeling that is called infatuation. Once, he let it slip that he was single and moving on from a controlling possessive girlfriend. He called her Annette.
Eight months down the line, we went out for a lunch date where he asked me to be his official girlfriend since ,as he put it, he instantly connected with me that day at the club and knew i was the one for him. The feeling was mutual and it was a done deal. I became his woman.
We met more frequently in the weekends at his house where our relationship moved on to the next level,sex. Jake said his work didn’t permit him to call or meet me during the week and that i should alert him whenever i came by his place during the week. He rarely replied to my night texts or calls in the name of ‘was already asleep’ or ‘ my phone was in silent mode, sorry.” I, too,had a day job as an accountant which was consuming, therefore his behaviour never raised any red flags and i was so blindly in love with him.
One day i called his cell during the week at around 5pm and a lady picked up his phone. I asked him about it the following day and he explained it was his sister. I believed him. I followed him in all his social media handles from the first day i met him at the club and nothing seemed off. He had even posted an update on Facebook about being in a serious relationship but did not say who (cause i knew it was definitely me.)
The lady incident got me thinking so i planned to drop by his place unannounced. A woman answered his door. She was very pretty, long haired and heavily pregnant. I assumed it was his sister so i introduced myself as her brother’s girlfriend. She was shocked. She said she was Annette and that she and Jake were engaged to be married in November, a month from now. She had reconciled with Jake a month ago after he found out she was pregnant with his child. It was my turn to be shocked . How could i be so naíve? I walked out of that house a broken creature, torn and ashamed.
I called Jake and asked him for a face to face meeting. On the agreed date, he came prepared to prove his innocence. He said how sorry he was for lying and that Annette had threatened suicide. He didn’t want to lose the baby. Her parents were also in the mix, vowing to make his life a living hell if he did not marry their daughter. Jake said he did not love Annette anymore and that i was truly the one for him. We talked for hours and beyond my own imagination, i believed him.
The marriage happened and two months later, the baby came. Annette and Jake were now the complete family while i had to hold on to the sidelines, standing by his promise to be with me despite being married.
We still see each other and when we do, he tells me about his horrid, nightmare of a wife , the constant crying baby girl in the house and how his efficiency at work is being affected by all that. He even bought a condo for me in one of the lavish estates of Nairobi, something i couldn’t afford by my own salary summed up in three years.
I believe Jake and i were meant to be. Nothing in this world ,not even marriage to that Annette , will stop what fate planned for us. He said his divorce was imminent whereafter i will be the one walking down that isle with him by my side. It’s two years now since his wedding with Annette and i am pregnant with his boys(twins), he always hoped for a male child to pass on his engineering interests to, and now he has two. Surely, he will come home to me for good, to his true wife.
Hi , i am Chris
I live in Nakuru town, Kenya and i have an affair with my best friend’s boyfriend, Ted. We are workmates at an insurance firm ,so i get to see and interact with him daily. His girlfriend works as a pediatric intern in the Provincial Government hospital level 5 located in the town……
Read this story in Part 2 of the series.