Archive for October, 2011

Polygamy – I am for the “Right of Choice”.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 6, 2011 by Dante Bello

I was fortunate to get myself embroiled on Twitter in the polygamy discourse engineered by my friend Simphiwe Dana.  Unbeknown to me as we all know, debates on Twitter always has a way of evolving into different strands that one can ever imagine and so was this one on polygamy.

The 140 characters limitation on Twitter sometimes tend to restrain a person into not being able to fully express their sentiment or put a point across as they would do in a physical one on one discussion.

Nevertheless, this debate went on for a lengthy amount of time and my learned friend, Ms. Dana was unable to convince me of her ploy to trash polygamy as an oppressive institution that is design to oppress all women.

Personally I don’t practice polygamy even though I was born and grew up in a polygamous home and some of my family members still do practice it. Like every other institution, there are pros and cons that makes up it entity.

I have been fortunate to witness both sides of polygamy. This does not mean because polygamy has it negative side, so it should be correlated to oppression which in my view is relative, and nor should we solely tag it to the common norm of patriarchy and misogyny alone.

I am of the view that, polygamy as an entity has been tainted with sentiment that it oppresses women and deprives them of their right to make independent choices in life and invariably making them powerless – this cloud of perception is limiting people not to see beyond this education. This kind of sentiment I choose to differ myself from, though there are instances where such cases exist.

It will also be a flawed argument to bastardise polygamy when there are people who it is working for and who are in it happily and have found fulfilment in practicing it. Should this aspect of it be brushed aside because feminist have issues with polygamy?

Must we now say because of some these negative instances we must now outrightly call polygamy an evil institution without looking at the other sides of it?

I choose not to outrightly “demonize or bastardize” the institution of polygamy on the basis of relativity and the right of choice for women to be informed of all elements involved and let them decide what deem fit for their lives.

I believe if we are going address the challenges of society and build a cohesive social structure, we must take time to discuss these challenges and be critical across board and at the same time be honest enough to state the positive aspect of these issues without hypocrisy.

We cannot charade polygamy as “unjust” when we still have women that are happy and ‘have made conscious choices’ to enter into it.

Who said a man or a woman was design to have one wife or husband and be in a monogamous relationship? By who’s morality and authority do we confine all of humanity to this school of thought and why?

Who said monogamy is the final and perfect system for marriage? Why there are so many single parents out there and the divorce rate is sky rocketing year in and year out?

It is a misconception to solely crass all women into a box that they are forced into polygamy. Nor will I be a hypocrite to deny the fact there are religions and cultures that use it as a medium to oppress women and their right to choose the lifestyle they want to lead. This aspect of polygamy should be condemned and be included in the debate of building a free social cohesive structure where the right of choice exist for all.

It is also a tiring argument to solely focus on the negative aspect of polygamy without looking at the positives and come up with practical solutions to bridge these differences for a cohesive pro-choice and free society.

We cannot put this fact under the carpet – Polygamy is a reality and it is working for some people and it is not so for others – I believe, the institution of marriage is not for everybody so also is polygamy – People must be educated and let them make choices that sooth their expectations and happiness in life.

In Africa polygamy expressed itself in the Jewish, Islāmic and other native traditions. Polygamy became taboo with Colonialism due to the influence and indoctrination of the Europeans on African way of life.

However polygamy is continuously becoming an option in the African Diaspora, Asia and even in the so-called western world in response to the 21st century social dilemma of relationships and marriages.

Polygamy practice within the framework of law and balance is a practical aspect of African family systems which existed from Kemet to Sokoto.

The Perception of the African self has been so given to us by the “other” (Western World) that it is hard to distinguish what is indigenous intelligence and what is a product of mental conditioning because of the European dynamic.

There is a great confusion around modernity with progress and development and too often Westernization or more specific Europeanization collapses into modernity.

African people must objectively re-examine structures that were the backbone of their historical development in trying to successfully engage in modernity.

Outside of the Western paradigms, all aspects of Africa must be placed on the table of development; critically examined, modified, deleted or enhanced with respect to the African cultural continuum.

I don’t practice polygamy, nor will I advice or instruct anyone to go into it. I am of the view that people must be empowered with the necessary tools, education and information to exercise their “Right to Choice” as to what deem fit for their happiness in life.

I still will not advice you to go into polygamy – I am for the “Right of Choice”.

@dantebello on Twitter.