Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The New Polygamy

How important are children to a marriage?

When I was much younger, I had this girlfriend with whom I had agreed not to have children if we got married. We had this belief that marriage was for companionship and not necessarily for children. We decided that kids would be a distraction for us. Not letting us live our lives to fullness.

Back then, I personally could not understand why people would marry more than one wife or live polygamous lives just because of children. I had believed that polygamy was a problem of the old and uneducated folks and largely a generational problem that will pass away as more and more people become educated.

I was wrong.

In the last three months, I have experienced, at close quarters a seeming surge in polygamous tendencies amongst people who I will classify as young, educated and upwardly mobile in all senses of the word. In all these situations however is a common decimal. An inability to have a child.

Ade works in a bank while Toun, his wife of thirteen years works with a government agency in Lagos. I was at their wedding and I believe that both of them wanted children in the marriage so this was not a case of family planning. Besides, after thirteen years, the excuse of family planning becomes untenable.

Sometime in December 2008, I met Ade in the Isolo area of Lagos dressed to the nines in lace agbada and all that. He told me he had come for an engagement ceremony somewhere in the neighburhood. Toun was not with him.

In April, I was preparing a bid for which I needed some input from a bank and I called my friend to vet it for me. He was quite busy during the week and asked me to see him at home during the weekend so that we can go through it together before presenting it to the bank on Monday.

On Saturday, I called to confirm our meeting and he asked me to meet him at an address in Isolo. I know he lives in Ikeja with his wife but I drove down to Isolo and I met my friend very much at home with a young woman and a baby girl.

He said 'Nimmo, meet my daughter'. I could not hide my shock. My jaw almost hit the floor.

He explained that when I saw him in December he had come for an engagement alright. His engagement to his second wife, Dupe who was pregnant at that time.

'Does Toun know?'

'No she doesn't and I know you will not be the one to tell her.'

Wetin concern agbero with overload?

Kenneth is a lawyer and Tina, his wife works as an HR Consultant. They'd been married for ten years now without a child. To all intents and purposes, they are happily married. Kenneth is the quintessential husband and Tina is the dutiful wife. A perfect couple if there was one.

I have known Kenneth since our university days and he has always been a gentleman. You know the law student who was always in shirt and tie while you all wore jeans and t-shirt to classes. That was Kenneth.

On the fateful day I was in his office when he asked me to 'escort' him to a school in Ikeja GRA. To see the Headmaster who was a friend, he said. In the Headmaster's office, they kept talking about 'his son' and I was confused. Well, that was until I saw the boy in question. At about three years of age, he was a spitting image of my friend.

Does Tina know?


My mouth shut up.

I have known Shade since like forever. My area girl to the core.

After getting her Diploma from the polytechnic, Shade got pregnant for and married to - or got married to and pregnant for (whichever came first) - a Camerounian guy, we will call Jules. They had a son but it was a turbulent marriage and after three years they seperated. Jules died shortly after. He had taken his son to live with his relatives in France.

Shade remarried about five years ago to Ahmed, who was married before but had no child from the previous marriage. Everything was good. Right?

A few months ago, we were at a function where Shade was introduced as Mrs. Kamala. Now this Kamala was known to be married with children.

Shade, how come?

Wo, Nimmo free my hand joo. I cannot continue to live with a man who cannot give me a child.

That was the long and short of her story.

But you are not divorced from him yet, and you're already living with another man. This is bigamy you know.

Biga kinni? Did he tell you that I married him in court? No be only traditional we do? In fact, the only person I was ever legally married to was Jules and I still have my marriage certificate.

What about Kamala? You're Mrs. Kamala now.

Kamala? Mschewwwww .. .. Abeg, Nimmo stop lawyering me, na pikin I dey find.


Mineexclusively said...

Hmmm interesting. I sure hope all these people tried other options before jumping into someone else's bed. Not like any married man in Nigeria is faithful anyways. LWKM.

Kafo said...

this is definitely otherwise

i don't have that many friends living in Naija right now so i have no experiences to share

it is sad that it is so rampant
i know men do it and have been doing it since Abramham and Sarah but women?

that is a new one for mii oooo

i think it is one thing if you know and another if you don't
like in the second story the wife of Kenneth knew so i guess it is acceptable
and then again naija is not anti polygamy
is it?

Artsville said...

Wow, very interestingly.People want kids in Nigeria and they want them at all cost.

And no married man in Nigeria is faithful? Really?That's news.

archiwiz said...

Hmmm.... Wow. Definitely not typical with the people I know who were married for a long time without a child. One couple adopted, and the other two had children after 15 and 18 years respectively.

guerreiranigeriana said...

...*speechless and struggling to think of something to say*...certainly helps distract me from my dissertation topic...wow and interesting indeed!!...

N.I.M.M.O said...

@MineX: I want to believe they did but dont know why they settled for that option. Is that really true about married men? Maybe you should tell us about how you got yours 'exclusively'. Many thanx for your comments.
@Kafo: Yeah, otherwise. It was the woman's story that actually made it interesting. Men being polygamous is really nothing new but there's a new polygamy out there. Many thanx.
@Artsville: Help me ask MineX o! many thanx.
@Archiwiz: I had known people who waited on the Lord for quite a long time too but it appears people are not so patient nowadays. We only hope its not a trend thats catching. Then we will really worry. Many thanx.
@GNaija: Good at least something takes you away from the books for some time. Now go back to read!

How is it going Sis? Many thanx for stopping by.

badderchic said...


the 1st two stories? are typical. the third one? me sef shock.

na wa o!

Ms. Catwalq said...

Children has always been an excuse for adults to do all sorts of things.
I understand the desire for a child motivating you but when u have ti sneak around, lie and connive...that's a no-no...

Besides, I can bet my money that most of these "other" women know that their current relationship is contingent on their producing a child and so they will make sure that "there is " a child no matter what...DNA is going to make some negroes say " shit"

N.I.M.M.O said...

@Chica: It was the third story that actually made me write this. Strange but its happening. How u dey/
@Catty: Anything for a child. Not so? At this point many people don't consider DNA, seeing the baby is enough justification for them. Many thanx.

guerreiranigeriana said...

...actually, i am glad you wrote this...i may need to refer to this post in a couple years when i am writing, as a juxtaposition...

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