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Things to Know About Polygamy in Nigeria

In most parts of the world, polygamy is fast becoming a myth. Nigeria is the exception. Read this article to know some interesting things about polygamy in Nigeria.

What is Polygamy?

things to know about polygamy in Nigeria
A polygamous marriage

Polygamy is a type of marriage or union where the man (husband) has multiple wives as opposed to the usual one that is ordained by religion and modern law. You cannot visit a home where there is only one wife and call it a polygamous home.

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There must be at least two wives (legal wives and not side chicks) present in that home before you can call it a polygamous home.

Origin of Polygamy

This is something that might surprise you. Remember when I said polygamy is not ordained by religion today, especially the Christian religion?

Seems that wasn’t always the case. In fact, this practice was first put into play by Latter-Day Saints of the 19th century.

Yes, Christians.

Polygamy was practiced mostly by church leaders for more than half of the 19th century before other cultures began to adopt the system. It became most common in places with high pre-colonial activity focused on farming civilizations. Africa is a prime example of this.

Another thing that lets polygamy dig its roots in the nation is war.

When civilizations go to war, which was rampant in those days, people die, especially men, leaving a lot of widows behind. After the customary grieving period, some of these women would marry available men to preserve their social standing. To secure their children’s future.

Over time, polygamy became a permanent tradition in Africa.

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Significance of Polygamy in Africa

a polygamous home

Today, polygamy is considered a right in parts of the world, like Africa.

There are those who argue that polygamy has no place in modern society and that it is an outdated practice that will only bring hazards due to the growing rate of HIV infections in the world.

The critics argue that since Africa, in particular, seems to be the continent with the highest rate, perhaps polygamy should be abolished.

Such criticisms have yielded no fruit. In recent years, a lot of polygamous marriages have occurred, especially in the animist and Muslim communities of West Africa. Arab Nations, particularly the Bedouin group, have a polygamy rate of 30 percent.

In Senegal, 47 percent of marriages are polygamous.

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The culture of polygamy is legal in areas like South Africa, Egypt, Eritrea, Morocco, Malaysia, Iran, and Libya.

In some other countries like Israel, Chechnya, and Burma, it is illegal, but they don’t enforce the law.

Nigeria is another good example.

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Pros of Polygamy

  • It secures the lives of orphans; society takes care of them
  • It is an honest way of having multiple s3xual partners than having to cheat or hide way illegal mistresses
  • It’s how western societies assert themselves in the face of colonial imperialism

Cons of Polygamy

  • It boosts the transmission of HIV/AIDS, and that sends out a wrong message
  • It is completely at odds with the idea of gender equality that’s at the heart of a modern society
  • Not a good strategy for checking the world’s population growth

Polygamy in Nigeria: Things To Know

For this segment, we’ll discuss certain things about Nigeria’s polygamy.

If polygamy had a throne in Africa, it would be Nigeria.

The marriage culture is predominant in the heart of West Africa, mostly in the northern part of Nigeria.

Polygamy is influenced by sharia law, and it mostly happens among Muslims. Their religion supports it, and they see it as the necessary way to increase population size. While Nigeria doesn’t recognize polygamous marriages under civil law, the practice is legal in twelve states, and all twelve follow the rule of sharia law.

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Origin of Polygamy in Nigeria

It dates back to ancient times. Two factors that ensure polygamy are culture and religion. In the old days, when kingdoms united to become sovereign countries, polygamy was rampant among all ethnic groups. Later the Ibos abolished the practice after adopting Christianity.

Before Christianity, an Ibo man could marry more than one wife. They would encourage him to do so.

However, polygamy is rare today in Iboland. But they still permit and practice it in some southeastern areas.

Among the Yorubas, polygamy is prevalent among Muslims and community leaders. Monarchs like the Alaafin of Oyo are known for having more than one wife. They can marry as much as they want under religious customs.

How Frequent is Polygamy in Nigeria?

At least one average home in Nigeria has a polygamous background.

The National Demographic and Health Survey states that a third of Nigerian women have polygamous marriages and that 16 percent of men (aged 16-49) have polygamous unions. 33 percent of women reported their husbands to have more than one wife.

How Many Wives Can Exist In A Polygamous Marriage?

There is no law regarding the number of wives a man can have in his polygamous marriage. Some have 2. Some have 12. It only depends on the man and what his priorities are.

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Should Polygamy be Abolished Today?

Many argue that it should.

Wherever polygamy is predominant, you would see high levels of violence and terrorism.

When small numbers of men control large numbers of women, the remaining men will want to take greater risks and engage in more violence, possibly including terrorism, in order to increase their own wealth and status in hopes of gaining access to women.

In many cases, it is accompanied by lower marital satisfaction. It involves s3xual, physical, and emotional abuse by the husband, which has severe psychological and physiological consequences for the wives, including low self-esteem, low life satisfaction, loneliness, depression, somatization, phobia, anxiety, and paranoia.

Nigeria is currently facing a harsh economy which has led to poverty and a very high level of unemployment. It would be extremely irresponsible and unwise for an economically malnourished country to breed unemployed men to practice polygamy.

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To Wrap Things Up:

Polygamy has adverse effects and does not belong in modern society. There is no argument that polygamy does more harm than good to society. For this reason, it is illegal in many countries and not recognized under civil or legal law.

But it is your choice. If you’re a man who wants a polygamous home, first consider a few things:

  • Cost of living and upkeep
  • Negative effects on the first wife’s mood and self-esteem
  • Effects on the community

These are the things to know about polygamy in Nigeria and the world. Please let us know in the comment section if you have any insights.

Daniel Maxwell
Daniel Maxwellhttps://www.d-pari.com
Journalist. Researcher. Writer