My three wives and I are happy, says polygamous man

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KISUMU COUNTY: As soon as President Kenyatta signed the Marriage Bill into law last week, tongues started wagging. It was the topic of discussion on social media, radio stations, matatus, social places and everyone had something to say about the new law. Generally, the men were excited while women voiced their misgivings about the provision that under polygamous marriages, a man did not need to seek his wife’s permission to get another wife, an addition the drafters of the law had included.

The discussion presented polygamy as the newest arrival in town; yet, it has been there for as long as marriage has existed. Many gave comments based on ignorance; they have not seen the Act.

Those who have read the Act, are happy that finally the marriage laws that were spread all over the Constitution have now been consolidated and clearly stated under one Act.

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Now anyone who wants to be married has a constitutional guidance on which marriage to go for — Islamic, Civil, Christian, Hindu or Customary. Islamic and Customary marriages are potential polygamous relationships.

According to the Act, marriage is the voluntary union of a man and a woman whether in a monogamous or polygamous union registered under the Act.

While the debate on whether ‘consulting’ a wife before bringing home another raged, a polygamous man in Kokewe village in Nyando District wondered what the fuss was all about.

Joseph Ogonyo, a husband of three wives and ten children — and still counting — has a different perspective, that which his wives may also loathe if given a chance to decide.

Ogonyo, commonly known by his nickname Kibira, says he was surprised that marriage had suddenly become a public matter. Marriage is personal, he says, and he wants to marry as many wives as he can take care of and says no amount of constitutional limitation could have barred him from achieving this desire.

He says since he married his first wife, Beatrice Achieng, in 2001, Kibira has steadily maintained love, mutual respect and understanding. He has also fulfilled his responsibilities dutifully despite getting two more wives.

Achieng says when Kibira married her, she had no idea of sharing her love with any other person, “but life is a journey and I stoically took every turn as it came my way”.

Sharing the love of your life is the most difficult thing, says Achieng, and when you realise you can’t change the tide of history, you wipe your tears and draw inspiration from your soul to live one. For her, the tide changed just two years into her marriage when her husband came home with Everlyn Atieno, the second wife.

Achieng says: “Tolerance is the secret of peace, harmony and happiness.”

Achieng was still young, but so was Atieno, but the two learnt how to co-exist.

“I believe it is a matter of desire on the side of the man to have many wives but I can say I am happy in this polygamous life because of the respect among us,” says Achieng.

Kibira says when he first introduced Atieno into the family, there was little resistance from Achieng although she felt shortchanged.

Kibira, a casual labourer at Rabuor slaughterhouse and a peasant farmer says: “I had a burning desire to have as many children as possible. However,  many people including my family members didn’t see it that way; so I had to marry more wives,” said Kibira, 38.

The father of ten, whose first child is in Standard Seven and the youngest is less than one year old, is already courting his third wife. Although she lives in a rental house at the nearby shopping centre, the youngest wife joined the family for this interview.

“Once my third wife is officially here at home, I will go on to get a  fourth and fifth before the end of this decade,” he says.

To make his wives feel equally loved, he has constructed semi-permanent houses with similar facilities for each.

The wives, who operate small scale businesses, supplement their husband’s income.

“Since we got to this home, Baba Junior has been impartial with his love and responsibility. That makes us happy. In case an issue arises between us, we sit together and settle it,” says Atieno.

They say little hick-ups have however been there but such are common in any society.

It is difficult to categorise Kibira’s children with their mothers as all the women treat all the children as their own.

“People do have differences, but we have learnt to live with such. We seek each other’s help and take the responsibility of making the family happy,” says Atieno.

Adds Achieng: “If any of us is away the one who is around takes care of the other’s children. They belong to one father.”

The three women are bound by Kibira’s fairness, perhaps a good lesson for those intending to bring home more wives.

Kibira says when he first introduced Atieno into the family, there was little resistance from Achieng although she felt shortchanged.

Kibira, a casual labourer at Rabuor slaughterhouse and a peasant farmer says: “I had a burning desire to have as many children as possible. However,  many people including my family members didn’t see it that way; so I had to marry more wives,” said Kibira, 38.

The father of ten, whose first child is in Standard Seven and the youngest is less than one year old, is already courting his third wife. Although she lives in a rental house at the nearby shopping centre, the youngest wife joined the family for this interview.

“Once my third wife is officially here at home, I will go on to get a  fourth and fifth before the end of this decade,” he says.

To make his wives feel equally loved, he has constructed semi-permanent houses with similar facilities for each.

The wives, who operate small scale businesses, supplement their husband’s income.

“Since we got to this home, Baba Junior has been impartial with his love and responsibility. That makes us happy. In case an issue arises between us, we sit together and settle it,” says Atieno.

They say little hick-ups have however been there but such are common in any society.

It is difficult to categorise Kibira’s children with their mothers as all the women treat all the children as their own.

“People do have differences, but we have learnt to live with such. We seek each other’s help and take the responsibility of making the family happy,” says Atieno.

Adds Achieng: “If any of us is away the one who is around takes care of the other’s children. They belong to one father.”

The three women are bound by Kibira’s fairness, perhaps a good lesson for those intending to bring home more wives.–standardmedia.co.ke

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