MANTALK: Lessons from a polygamist

Saturday February 9 2019

He says they are happy, they have been for the past five years because they don’t see themselves as co-wives, but as sisters.

He says they are happy, they have been for the past five years because they don’t see themselves as co-wives, but as sisters. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

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I met a guy, a normal guy like everyone else — he runs a business, tries to keep fit, eat right, get right with God, make it in the jungle of a city, raise a child, nurse a dream, and he has a wife.

You would imagine that he has a lot on his plate, but then he added another wife in the equation. Well, he didn’t add another wife, it was his first wife who took off because she wanted a “better life” but later realised that she was better off with him; so she came back and said she wanted her husband back.

However, he was already someone else's husband. Only problem is that he still loved her because love is a mangy wet dog that does what it pleases. So in some unfathomable twist of events too long to recount here, he managed to convince his wife to allow him to marry his first wife, again.

I will forgive you if this sounds like something from an Afro-Cinema because I forgave myself too.

Anyway, long story short, he has two wives now. He’s 41 years old. He’s happy. He says the wives are happy. I asked, “but how do you know they are happy”? He showed me pictures of the two wives in his shags over the Christmas holiday hugging and smiling so hard the photo cracked.

Never mind that it’s hard to look at pictures of two people hugging and smiling to tell if they are really happy. But he says they are happy, they have been for the past five years because they don’t see themselves as co-wives, but as sisters.

I met him and I interviewed him and here are the lessons I gleaned off him.


The first obvious lesson is that polygamy is expensive. Quite. And because of that, it’s not for people who don’t work hard. If you are lazy, you can’t make it in the land of polygamy.

If you like to wake up at 9am with a hangover, this might not also be for you, because none of the wives will carry deadweight. Your deadweight.

They want to be taken care of and so you have to pay rent (or build/ buy them houses), pay school fees, medical and education insurance and all those big ugly bills. And you have to pay them twice, which brings us to the next lesson …


Everything comes in twos. Two holidays. Schools — either the children go to the same schools or a set of schools that are in the same calibre. You won’t take one to Consolata School and another one to Nyaburi Primary School. (That’s a school in East Karachuonyo).

You also have to put them up in neighbourhoods of the same social status. If you buy one a German car, you can’t buy the other a Japanese car even if it’s more expensive. Everything comes in twos -hell, when you have sleeplessness nights you will have two of them. Worries come in doubles. Stress in doubles. If you get high blood pressure, it will feel like you are having extremely high blood pressures.


Foolish men can’t have two wives contrary to what you might believe that it’s only a foolish man who would want two sets of trouble. I listened to him talk and I realised that he was intelligent, even more intelligent than many men with one wife. First, it’s a common fact that most wives are much smarter, craftier than their husbands. They control things even in silence. Now imagine having two wives; that’s two smarter women to deal with, which is akin to being in the middle of a storm. A big part of having two wives, I learnt from his story, is the need to know how to, not only predict, but also resolve conflicts.


Of course this is what it is about; leading a family of two. Otherwise everybody will do whatever they want to do and go whichever direction they want to go. A polygamous man offers the blueprint and the direction for the whole family, and then funds that journey.

It takes so much. If you can’t lead, you can’t have two wives. And this kind of leadership isn’t like the conventional type. Just because you were a school captain or an MCA doesn’t naturally follow that you can handle this level of leadership.

The positive

He says that he is well taken care of on two fronts. He spends a week in each household and when he’s in either household, he is a king.

His coat is taken off him and his feet washed. (Metaphorically). There is healthy competition for him to feel most loved and appreciated in both homes.

He says that most importantly he doesn’t live a lie, hiding one “unofficial wife” like his peers, hiding illegitimate children, keeping up with lies and spending sleepless nights wondering if his wife might find out his skeletons. He thinks he will live longer because of that.