The Agony Of Monogamy
By TOLA ADENIYI
It was at the church service for the 90th birthday of the legendary matriarch of the Awo dynasty Chief Dr Hannah Dideolu Awolowo in Ikenne that the thoughts that prompted this article began. Some well known highly placed gentlemen and their wives were called upon to partake in the wine sipping, bread breaking ritual called Holy Communion. As soon as these respectable ladies and gentlemen, all of them past age 70, and amongst whom were renowned professors, high court judges, legal luminaries and business moguls, finished their spiritual blessing and were returning to their seats, they caught a pitiable sight in their over-flowing garb of hypocrisy.
They wore forlorn mien plastered with furrowed frowned faces like some one afflicted with putrid smell of heavy dose of fart. They looked as if they were mourning a three-year-old boy mistakenly killed by his own father, or the passing of a poor woman who has just succumbed to excruciatingly painful cancer.
They clung to their wives as if they were newly wedded. I temporarily forgot that I was in a holy church, the spiritual enclave of Christians. I almost laughed my head off because I knew each of the ‘holy’ ‘monogamous’ men intimately and by Jove, I knew of their second, third or fourth wives/liaisons/mistresses with whom they had sired several children. To the whole world they were champions of monogamy, but to their hearts and conscience they were celebrated polygamists, or at best, serial monogamists. Pshaw!
I saw pain written all over them, the agony of living a lie, the unease of hypocrisy, and the shame of going through life pretending to be what you are not.
This is the sort of agony a lot of the so-called monogamists go through all their lives. The series of lies they sell to their wives, and the double life they present to their pastors and church leaders, most of whom are actually equally guilty of hypocrisy and double life living.
This piece is not set out to condemn or criticise monogamy. Monogamy is perfect for those who believe in its concept and can genuinely keep to it. I too have been married to one lovely woman for almost 45 years and it has been like a marriage made in heaven. I happen also to be the promoter along with some friends the 35-year-old Family Club of Nigeria which is dedicated to the upliftment and celebration of marriage and family values.
The article is designed to expose the hypocrisy and pain associated with embracing false notions which are really not observed by any culture in the world, and to advise those who erroneously sentence themselves to a life of sadness and emptiness because they were deceived to believe that there is some utopia somewhere called monogamy.
I am very much aware that this article will generate a lot of controversy most especially from those who live holier-than-thou life and have continued to deceive the world that they are upholders of a doctrine that is not supported by true and enlightened interpretation of any religious doctrine.
The White Men, I am yet to see any human being whose skin colour is white like that of chalk, came and told the unfortunate lands they invaded that the cherished cultures, traditions and religions of such lands were rubbish, and instead indoctrinated them with values which they themselves never believed in or truly practiced. We know of King Henry Vlll, and several major historical figures in ‘Christian’ Europe who had more than one wife in addition of a string of wives who their ‘laws’ forbade them to address as wives but who nonetheless perform all the functions of wife minus name.
God bless President Mitterrand who openly confessed to having two women in his life, with the one in the other house with whom he fathered an 18-year-old daughter at the time he passed on.
I have schooled, worked and lived virtually in all the continents of the world and I make bold to say with all emphasis at my disposal that no culture on planet earth truly practices monogamy. My Greek, Italian, Russian, British, American and other Caucasians routinely visit their other wives [called by other names] with whom they have children. But back in the homes shared with the one carrying the ring, they are monogamists!
If God had wanted humanity to be monogamous, He or She would not have made the pigeon the only monogamous creature.
The cultures that practice polygamy had always known that at any given time, the number of available marriageable women far out number available men plus the fact that an 80-year-old man, if he has money, is still very much in the market whereas a 60-year-old woman may not be that lucky. The biological limitation to a woman’s productive age is also a factor. Why should a woman therefore remain on the shelf till age 45 when she could jolly well get married as second wife to a man who can afford to share life’s responsibilities with her? Why should a woman leave a man with whom she is No 1, simply because took a second wife and end up being numberless in the hands of several men with whom she naturally shares bed just because of some doctrine she hardly understands?
All the women who should go and marry but are saying they do not want to share their man with another woman in a polygamous setting, are sharing current boyfriends with several other women. Where is the logic?
The argument that children in a polygamous house are always at each other’s throat does not hold water. Many siblings of monogamous families are known to have had worse and irresolvable, irreconcilable squabble, with dirty bitterness over inheritance than children from different mothers.
The agony suffered by both men and women in the hand of unnatural laws and doctrines is too stifling for comfort. In 2002, 502 Reverend mothers were reported to have died while procuring abortion in Rome. Nigerian Tribune wrote an editorial on the unfortunate incident. And stories of Reverend fathers having children and sodomising young men in their care are legion! Why the hypocrisy?
Why should the world continue to live the life of Ostrich?
A well known Nigerian journalist hid his other wives from his wife because his religion would not permit of it and his wife, living in monogamy should not hear of it. At his funeral service, other wives surfaced and the woman parading the ring collapsed. It was the grace of God that prevented double interment that day!
The Western world which had not learnt the art of living amicably with more than one partner under the same roof has indulged in multiple serial marriages, divorcing innocent wives under flimsy excuses so that another woman can move in should not be measure of standard for the world. Thank God Hillary Clinton in the US and Mrs Cook in England were very much wiser. They refused to allow “some indiscretion” on the part of their husbands to ruin their marriages.
There was a well known American actor who passed on about a decade ago and all his 11 ex-wives with their numerous children attended his funeral. To ridicule the lie of their hypocritical existence, all the women were recognised and addressed as wives. As far as records show, the man had 11 wives!
Society, especially we Nigerians just like Kenyans and others have done, must start to rethink this issue of pretentious monogamy vis-à-vis polygamy so that in the not-too-distant future we do not end up with millions of unmarried women whose life style would be worse than prostitutes’ and millions of children whose fathers would be nowhere to be found.
This article was first published on 29/5/2006