October 9, 2008
Dr. Oty Agbajoh-Laoye
In a culture where infant mortality is outrageously high and the average woman has fifteen children, most of whom do not survive, polygamy has been practiced to not only show a man’s wealth, but also to assure the continuation of the man’s family name. Polygamy is represented in many cultures. African culture has a history of polygamy which can be shown through books such as “The Joys of Motherhood”. Women that are victims of polygamy can face many positive and negative effects that this lifestyle can present but obey their families because of tradition. In the common African community, life is hard and women have long seen the advantages of having co-wives to help share the burden. This allowed a distribution of labor, in which there were more women to build the family home, which is considered a female responsibility, and other work. It also eased the burden of child bearing, as each wife was not carrying the burden of the family procreation alone. Few women wanted to be a lone wife in a marriage, given the multiple burdens society and tradition would require of her. According to an African newspaper who took a recent poll, 45 percent of poll takers say having more than one wife is a great idea.Women, also being in the position of being held responsible for the sex of their children, risked being returned to their parents for not producing children of the sex desired by their husband. Therefore, women were far more secure in a polygamous marriage where there was less attention on a single woman and the sex of her children. Being returned in disgrace to ones family not only was an embarrassment to her and her parents, but it was also a hardship as the bride price paid to her family had to be repaid. In “The Joys of Motherhood” Nnu Ego’s hometown of Ibuza, polygamy is the norm and a woman’s worth is directly related to her ability to bear children. These customs are obviously...