The Polygamy Myth

On February 25, 2018, the Daily Monitor ran an article titled “Are Men Wired to be Polygamous?” My brain waves lit up of course! I thought a study had been undertaken to show that men were genetically predisposed to dip their wick in every available (and at times unconsenting) jar. It would explain why some men feel obliged to whistle or comment or grab at every passing female body that increases their heart rate. Or why some other men sneer at any refusal by a woman to accept their tepid offers of intercourse. Alas, I was to be disappointed. It was yet another man attempting to excuse wanton behavior on the part of his fellow men.

Let’s get to the meat of it. This would not be the first time our independent daily is pushing the “polygamy is natural” narrative. A cursory search on Google shows that it did so in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015. So what gives? If polygamy is so natural, why try so hard to convince us that it is? No one needs convincing that the heart pumps blood to the rest of the body. It’s only natural. Uganda is awash with men trying to escape (or prove?) their lack of sexual prowess by bouncing from one partner to the next. You never need to up your game if you’re always playing with someone new. Others entertain bevies of younger impressionable women alongside their wives and girlfriends. Uganda is awash with men who cheat. Cheating involves dishonest or unfair behavior. It means going behind your partner’s back. It involves pain and disillusion for one of the couple. In writing copious articles on the naturalness of polygamy, our independent daily is effectively trying to excuse deplorable behavior.

If polygamy were so natural, women would also have to be naturally predisposed to gracefully accepting divided attention from their partners. If we lived in a naturally polygamous society, there would be no need to lie or cheat. Men could simply walk up to their wives and introduce them to their latest conquest. If polygamy were only natural, women would invite their co-wives to breakfast for katogo. All the children would know each other and grow up together in harmony as brothers and sisters before their father’s death. Given, there are those who are open about having multiple partners. Whose wives all live in the same compound with their children or at the very least, know about each other. There is no problem where consenting adults with free and informed will are involved. In fact, I pray for the day women will legally maintain their multiple male partners in the same compound, with their children running around happily. Some people are simply not made for monogamy and in any case, polyamorous relationships are all the rave these days.

I would say to men who cheat: stop abiding by social norms that only work to constrain you and hurt your partner and family. Stop abiding by social norms that result in the utter destruction of your family when you die. Half-siblings and co-wives at each other’s throats, ready to murder if they feel slighted in the least. Stop abiding by social norms that mean your reputation or legacy die with you. If you want seven wives and ten concubines, come out with it. The truth shall set you free. Finally, be the kind of man you would like your daughter to marry.

To my fellow women, stop fretting over rotten fish. There are plenty of fish in the sea. If you do not want to be in a polygamous relationship and have agency in your own life, move on. How many men have you had to put off for the sake of your marriage and family? Perhaps too many to count! You will not lack for affection. Your kids will not be happier if you are in a marriage that demeans you and makes you miserable. You will be teaching your daughters to accept dogs for husbands and your sons to treat women like they are disposable. For some of you, the idea of moving out of a mansion and into a less auspicious space scares you to death, but happiness is not a mansion. I know the saying: it is better to cry in a Lamborghini than on a bicycle. But have you thought of option three? Not having to cry and maybe driving a Toyota? Allowing yourself to be free and happy?

Image taken from Crixeo

6 thoughts on “The Polygamy Myth

  1. Nice one Maria. Actually it makes sense for one to openly come out and agree to their desires. On the contrary, how many actually do that in the urban settings save for the rural.


  2. I like the argument here…but get to understand that every society is structured in its own way. Your arguments are western ladden where monogamy is the way to go. But remember it is also serial monogamy, that is, being with a partner in a time but several overtime. Polygamy was the way society used to operate and by wild thinking, you might be a step daughter or your immediate cousins could be in that boat. Anyway, you can engage me on this issue over coffee and I will introduce you to the polygny communities in the matrilineal belt of congo-South Africa. in Conclusion, its a question of how society is structured and not a universal marriage or relation system.


    1. If you read the article more carefully, you would have found that I said I have no problem with polyamorous relationships in which there is openness and consent of both parties.


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