Sie sind auf Seite 1von 5

Polygamy in Africa

Polygamy in Africa
Name
Institutional Affiliation

Polygamy in Africa

The African continent remains to be one of the continents that have strong cultural
values. The continent comprises people with diverse cultural practices some which are common
and some rare. Some of the most significant aspects of African people include birth, initiation,
marriage, and death. Marriage in the African continent is an important rite of passage, but there
are key issues that remain contentious when discussing African marriage. One of the most
controversial issues in African marriage is polygamy. Polygamy is a marriage when the man has
the right to marry more than one wife. According to most African traditions, it is lawful for a
man to marry more than one wife.
The legality of polygamous marriage in Africa is one of the most discussed issues of
marriage in Africa. All the African countries have legalized polygamous marriage as provided for
in most of the traditional African laws. The laws of all African countries allow polygamous
marriage, but there are numerous suggestions to make polygamy illegal. Some African countries
such as Kenya, Mauritius, Ghana, and Tunisia have amendments on their marriage laws that
intend to ban polygamy, but there is stiff opposition from human rights groups and religious
groups (Lankford, 2009, p.22). Most of the countries in Africa do not have the intention of
abolishing polygamy giving it an opportunity to spread. The marriage laws in most African
countries do not address issues of marriages because of the traditional practices and perceptions
of marriage and family.
The distribution of polygamous marriage in the African continent is concentrated in the
rural areas with seventy-five percent while the urban areas and semi-urban areas have twenty
percent. Polygamy is common is the rural areas of the African continent because of low
education levels and strong traditional beliefs (Kasibye, 2013, p.27). The rural areas in Africa
have a large population of uneducated people who cling to their traditions. In most African

Polygamy in Africa

countries where polygamy is rampant the main factor that influences it is illiteracy. Most of the
people in polygamy marriages have not attained adequate education to understand the ill of
polygamy. In South and West African countries where polygamy is very high, eighty percent of
the couples have little education or no education. Most of these marriages are done in line with
the traditional practices.
Religion is another factor that influences polygamous marriages in various aspects.
Religion in African continent has played a significant role in eradicating polygamy, but not all
religions are against it. The Islamic religion has played a big role in promoting polygamy in
some of the west and North African nations that have many Muslim people (Lankford, 2009,
p.43). According to the Islamic religion, there is nothing wrong when a man marries more than
one wife. Seventy percent of Islamic marriages in Africa are polygamous, with every family
having, at least, two wives. Christianity has also played its role in trying to minimize
polygamous marriages. The missionaries who came to Africa in the 1900s were the first to
criticize polygamous marriages. Although Christianity helped in minimizing the marriage, some
African Christians preserved some of their traditions which include polygamous marriages.
The impact of polygamous marriage is another issue that has led to its abolition by most
people. One of the problems of polygamous marriages in the African society is spread of diseases
from one partner to another. In most polygamous marriages, when one partner has a sexually
transmitted disease, the other partners in the same marriage have a high chance of contracting the
diseases. One of the diseases that have affected most of the African polygamous marriages is
HIV/AIDS. Another impact that necessitates the abolition of polygamy in Africa is family
conflicts. Polygamy can influence conflict among family members when one partner feels
sidelined by the head of the family. Women are jealous and require adequate attention from the

Polygamy in Africa

husband, and if this is not available conflict is inevitable (Kasibye, 2013, p.37). Another factor
that has lead to violence in African polygamous marriages is inheritance. The negative impacts of
are severe in the society, therefore abolishment would be the best option.
Conclusion
Polygamy in Africa remains a fundamental issue with mixed arguments for and against it.
Although some of the Africans practice it, research shows that there are many problems that arise
because of it. The African society must look at the negative issues of polygamy, and start guiding
the young people so that they can stop its spread. The issue of polygamous marriage is a burden
to the society, and this is why most African nations are coming up with laws to abolish it.

Polygamy in Africa

References
Lankford, Ronald D. Polygamy. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2009. Print.
Kiesbye, Stefan. Polygamy. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2013. Print.