Monday, September 28, 2009

Four wives

Can you imagine getting married to four women at the same time?! I am a woman, and I remember my wedding day as one of the happiest days of my life. But I bet my husband remembers it a bit differently: me wanting everything to be perfect, my mom stressing over food at the reception, my dad making sure that the priest got to church on time. I am sure I was not the most lovable person on that day and I’m glad that Mark made it through it. Now, imagine the grumpy bride and annoying in-laws times four!

But just the very thing happened is South Africa. Zulu businessman Milton Mbele, 44, married four women between the ages of 22 and 35. Polygamy is a common thing in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province of South Africa but only the first wife is legally recognized. Thobile Vilakazi, Zenele Langa, Baqinisile Mdlolo, and Smangele Cele all know each other and get along. “We don't see anything unusual about our marriage. We agreed to marry him at the same time because we love him.” In total, Mr. Mbele paid 33 cows as a dowry payment. “He paid 10 cows for Ms Vilakazi, seven for Ms Langa and eight each for Ms Mdlolo and Ms Cele, reports the Sowetan newspaper.” "’Marrying many wives is our culture,’ Mr. Mbele said. ‘However, what is different is to marry all of them at once. I am doing this because I love all these women.’” Mike Dladla says that it is better to marry more than one wife than to be monogamous and cheat all the time.

I am just wondering what all of these women think. What woman in her right mind would want to share her husband with three other women! How did Mr. Mbele decide which of the wives will have the actual marriage certificate? Didn’t he think it will create resentment between them? And what of Mr. Dladla’s comment that men in monogamous marriages are tempted to cheat? What makes him so sure that the four wives will keep Mr. Mbele happy? There is polygamy among the Tumbuka tribe in the north of Malawi. Older wives resent younger wives. Younger wives feel self important and put down the older wives. And when the husband dies there can be a bitter dispute between the children over the inheritance. And here is the worst thing about marrying four women, nagging times four!


  1. This story is crazy to me. Having one partner would be stressful, how could you have four?

  2. My husband always says bigamy is a self-punishing crime. He says the penalty for having more than one wife is having more than one wife.