In defence of polygamy in Africa

By Shivute Kaapanda [Think Tank Africa]

The fundamental principle in nature is the reproduction of all species which human beings are not an exception.

To broaden our horizons on the importance of human reproduction let’s drink from the wisdom of old texts such as the holy bible; those in the Christian space would be more convinced reading Genesis 1:28, which says, “God blessed them, and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.”

Of course, one doesn’t need to be a Christian to understand the critical message in Genesis 1:28. We will however return to Genesis when those who fell victim and are captivated by a one-woman narrative refuse to wake up.

Polygamy is a phenomenon historically often associated with African people; it has also historically been acceptable and a valid standard of marriage.

Compared to monogamy which was often associated with people of lower status and mostly a preferred form of marriage by European standards and much often for ambiguous reasons endorsed by the Christian teachings in Africa to fit the European description and definition of a modern marriage.

The theological thinking of various Christian denominations has been divided on the subject of polygamy.

While polygamy has been and is still being a burning issue today, some religions communities in Africa have been debating the permissibility of granting church memberships to polygamists, just as they debate the permissibility of granting church memberships to homosexuals.

While many churches regard polygamy as a pagan practice and apparently has no relevance in modern society, the world, through western legal systems, has already tasted a meal of homosexual marriages.

Those of us in support of polygamy really understand and respect various opinions from various establishments and individuals, however the belief that both monogamy and polygamy should co-exist must be considered precisely because it has a role to play in a functional society.

Polygamy is a socially friendly system and it can be a solution to many modern social ills concerning marriages.

However, with African history and population being built on polygamous relationships one need to come out clear and explain why one would think that monogamous relationships as holy as perceived can outweigh polygamous ones.

Why would a modern monogamous couple often find themselves in terrible situations which often call for a polygamous solution? In this modern world why is it that most marriages don’t last longer or don’t work at all as compared to those of our great-grand parents?

A monogamous husband would find himself having a sexual affair or to a more extent even have kids out of a monogamous marriage which in most cases is the main cause for divorces as per the Roman-Dutch law.

The Roman-Dutch law which is a standard operating law in Africa endorses only monogamous marriages while at the same time it doesn’t have necessary mechanisms in place to maintain such monogamous marriages, much worse this is the same legal system which necessitates homosexual marriages.

The church’s operating procedure is even worse: the Catholic Church, for example, defines marriage as a monogamous relationship of which only death can separate the couples.

The system is so vicious, it is not friendly to the dynamics of a lower populated Africa on a very large scale of land but it’s endorsed by people from highly populated continents with geographical sizes ten times smaller than Africa. Is this not double standard?

Polygamy has benefited Africa long before the invasion by Europe. Most of us and the preceding generation are the descendants of polygamous families.

Of course, the dynamics of society change, but if one takes a good look at how monogamous relationships have secretly turned to polygamous relationships, that which is commonly known as “cheating”, we would come to the realization that the system of monogamous relationships is punitive and deprival to nature. Therefore there is a need to incorporate a system of polygamy so that the two can co-exist.

Like in animal breeding and reproduction, polygamy increases the chances of good breeds and increases population growth. On the other hand, monogamy is a tool for depopulation not very far from modern contraceptives. Now imagine what a monogamous system combined with a lot of contraceptives can do to an already lower populated Africa.

With polygamy the chances of human population growth in Africa can be ten times more compared to monogamy. Monogamy is a repressive and a narrow system of depopulation often used by western countries because they have already achieved the maximum population.

Many have associated polygamy with woman abuse but it’s often indicated that women are more abused in monogamous relationships than in polygamous ones.

Polygamy is economically dynamic and socially fruitful since children are family investments because when they grow up they become productive members of family and society.

Let us not go with the frenzy of bloody capitalists and feminists who want to depopulate Africa only for the benefit of their big populations, but let’s embrace our cultures for our sake as Genesis says that we must “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.”

– Shivute Kaapanda is a Pan-African writer, a columnist and author of the book titled “The Conscious Republic”. He can be reached at