1,2,3... 12 wives: wonder how this Mayuge man does it?

Patrick Oburu with some of his family members at their home in Mayuge District. Each of the 12 wives has a separate room. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa

What you need to know:

The more the merrier. Patrick Muzeyi Oburu was born the only child and for him, this was not fair. To fill the lineage gap that his father left behind, the father of 61, decided to marry as many women as he could. He has no regrets for his choices and says everything was God’s plan. He spoke to Christine Katende.

Who is you first wife and when did you marry her?
Her name is Allen Nafamba, and we got married in 1968.

What was your experience with your first three wives?
It was good because they all loved me wholeheartedly. It is fortunate my in-laws would give me one or two more girls as a bonus whenever I married a girl from their family. It used to be a token of thanks. I guess I am just blessed.

So, how do you share your love?
My wives are peaceful and understanding. My house also has 12 rooms and I share my love accordingly. There is a time table, and each wife is allocated specific days.

You say you have 61 children, can you mention their names off head?
I can try. The first born is Wilber Ngobi, Badru Ngobi, Benard Oburu, God Ngobo, Kenneth Ngobi, and the 61st child is Nangobi.

What about the grandchildren?
Seriously, I cannot tell, they are so many.

How do you solve conflict among your wives?
I sit them down in case of anything and because they are very understanding, everything gets settled within a minute. I do not allow quarrels and fights in my home. Why should they fight?

What motivated you to have all these women?
It is my father who did not plan well. He gave birth to me at 60 years and so I never had siblings.

How do you maintain the welfare of your family?
My wives and children are hardworking. They grow fresh produce for both commercial and domestic purposes. I also have a coffee plantation and a retail shop that supplements the yields from the garden.

Patrick Oburu with some of his wives at their home in Mayuge District. Each of the 12 wives has a separate room. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa

What is your source of income?
I am a native doctor and I have so many clients.

Who is your favourite wife?
Everybody is my favourite. Each of them gives me her best. I do not compare them because they all have different strengths and weaknesses.

Are your wives stay-home mothers?
They grow food stuffs for commercial purposes and it is from the farms that they get school fees and money for upkeep.

Have you ever rethought your decision to have all these wives?
Of course not. It is a decision I made and I am happy and comfortable with it. I know that the Bible recommends one man for one woman, but my case was totally different. And also, God planned it for me. Those who marry one wife have many relatives and siblings.

Aren’t your wives demanding?
No. We work together and share every yield equally.

Do you manage them?
I only advise them on the best way to use the money from the farm produce.

Do you have girlfriends outside your home?
For what? I have enough wives and they no longer give birth. I stopped them. I used traditional family planning.

Have any of your children followed in your footsteps?
Yes, four of them have more than one wife and I have trained them to take on my native business.

Don’t people criticise your big family?
They do but I do not care. It is God-given. Many men have failed to handle two women but I relate with 12 women and 61 children.

What is your perception about people with monogamous families?
It is okay to have what you can afford.

What are some of the challenges you have with this big family?
Apart from asking the government to render a helping hand in regard to my children’s education, I am okay. The government should also provide me with coffee and matooke seedlings, and fertilisers so that I can grow food for my family.

What does love mean to you?
Love is about your wife and children.

Do you share love equally?
Everybody has her ample time with me. I satisfy them 100 per cent. And they truly love me. And they understand that I can compensate if I failed to make it up to any of them.

Don’t you ever get overwhelmed by the intimacy?
No, I am still strong. Men should only be patient and loving.

Allen Oburu, First wife: Sometimes, I accompany him to pick a new bride

I got married when I was 35 years old. After sometime, my husband requested for my consent to marry another woman. I agreed amicably, given the fact that he had no relatives apart from me. It is quite fortunate that all my co-wives, including my sister, are okay. We never quarrel or fight for anything. We love each other and they respect me as the first wife. I am like their elder sister.
I have always seconded my husband to marry more women and sometimes I accompany him when he is going to get a new bride. It is okay. I am now aged, I no longer enjoy intimacy. More still, all our children are treated in the same manner no matter who their mother is. I personally had four children but three of them passed on.
Counselling in that regard has helped me groom reasonable and responsible children. I always discourage them from being discriminative to avoid fights. I have been patient and always encourage my co-wives to be patient, as long as he is a good and responsible man.

Jessica Oburu, 11th wife : I have never yearned for another man

I got married to Oburu in 1986 when I was 30 years old. He came to my father’s house to ask for my hand in marriage. He made it clear that he had 10 other women but that did not hinder me. I wanted to explore more about how life would be like living with so many women in one house. Fortunately, my expectations were reversed when all of the women welcomed me. They treated me more like a queen. I received the best treatment ever from my co-wives. I visit their rooms freely and I am happy when their children call me mother. I love my husband and I have so far given birth to four children (two boys two girls). We care for ourselves in health and sickness, we cultivate together and take care of the big man. My husband satisfies me sexually and I have never yearned to have a side dish whatsoever. I really have no problem sharing my man. What matters is the love and respect I have for him. The only trouble is money to cater for my two secondary school-going children. One is in Senior One and the other in Senior Three. I really want to offer them the best education but the funds are inadequate yet my husband has so many children to take care of.

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