What you need to know:
At 27, the fourth of 58-year-old pastor Patrick Kimera’s wives says she makes no apologies for marrying an openly polygamous man. Another highly educated and financially stable woman also chooses polygamy even if it costs her family, writes Christine W. Wanjala.
The past few weeks, polygamy has been discussed a lot. Thank pastor Patrick Kimera and his Gospel of polygamy, which basically defends his beliefs and why polygamy is God’s answer to all the worlds’ marital problems. And that man’s superiority over woman made him the master and also gave him the right to have more than one wife.
I know, among other things, that this response served to make a good number of feminists blue in the face and asking “How dare he?” But how about the other side of the story? How exactly do the women in polygamous relationships see it?
Meeting wife number four
A well put together 27-year-old beauty, she strikes you as a woman who is very sure of what she wants in life. Even with her demure smile and soft as velvet voice, Jennifer Kimera does not come off as a victim. This is further reinforced when she says firmly, “I know what I am doing.” There is no doubt about her conviction. No problem at all with being one of many wives.
“Nowadays, men will almost always have a side dish, so a lot of women invariably end up in polygamous arrangements without being aware of it,” is her humble opinion. At least in her case she knows where her husband could be exactly when he is not with her and she is okay with that.
As a little girl or growing up and reaching that point where most girls envision their marriage, walking down the aisle or such things, it did not occur to Jennifer that she would marry a man much older than her nor one openly polygamous. “But I grew up in a polygamous home so the idea was not so new. When the time came, I was ready to get married to the man I had met and been impressed with. I did not hesitate because of the problem of other wives,” she said. Her family too did not raise an eyebrow.
Enter wife number two
Edel Ndimurungi, 27, traditinally married as a second wife to another man, says she did not see it in her fantasies as a little girl either. There is one difference though between her and Jennifer. She had major issues with being the other woman at first, like any girl raised in a Christian monogamous home, and her family was totally opposed to it. “My grandmother called a family meeting and told every one of my cousins not to embarrass her like I did,” she says.
When you look at her trendy dressing, car, how she speaks, and put into consideration her academic credentials (she has a masters degree from the UK!) you think “upwardly mobile career-oriented woman”. Not second wife.
Like her family, I honestly cannot understand what she would be settling for number two. She has the money, and with her looks, men would be falling all over themselves to be with her. “But I found in my husband seriousness and maturity I had not seen before. I’m happy despite everyone else deciding that I cannot be,” says the mother of one.
For Jennifer, the idea of sharing her husband does not bother her. It did not from the beginning. “We are all believers,” she says. It is the same stipulation she puts if her husband is to marry again. The new woman, or women, have to be believers of the same faith.
“It will be much easier to get along if we start from a place of common belief,” she argues. Asked if the women get along as famously as their husband says, she takes a moment to answer, “Hmm challenges of sharing, of living together as wives of the same husband? Well, there is the matter of us coming from different backgrounds, different personalities. As a wife in a polygamous marriage, you sometimes have to deal with the others and there may be some friction, some misunderstandings. But nothing has gotten out of hand.”
The native of Mityana who works as a secretary does prefer being in a polygamous marriage to staying single. “If I were still single waiting for a man who was also single, I would be dating here and there. I would not be happy,” she says. She also says she would miss out on the advantages of marrying a mature responsible man. “They are hard to come by nowadays. When you get one who wants to actually make you his wife, one who is loving, trustworthy and honest about his marital status, you take him. Besides, I would not have my beautiful daughter Genesis,” she reasons, pointing at their little girl.
Coping with the public’s reactions
Ndimurungi, who has been ostracised in her family and by most of her friends, says she would very well be single if she were not happy. “But I am. People’s thoughts are divided into two. Either, I’m a victim of this man’s brainwashing, or I’m a gold digger. Why can’t I be a woman happy to be married to the man I fell in love with?” she asks. I point out that it is because she is a striking young woman, who is able to make a decent living, educated and all, who voluntarily entered a polygamous marriage.
“My husband and I get along well. And I’m able to contribute to our lives like any other married woman,” she says. Ndimurungi and Jennifer’s other challenge would be being younger than some of their husbands’ elder children. It makes Jeniffer laugh a little shyly but she says “It all works somehow. We are all a family.”
Ndimurungi has a harder time. The children assume she is a gold-digger out to take their father’s money despite her efforts to prove them wrong by working and trying to hold her own on the financial front.
Kimera’s belle is with Ndimuringi on seeing them as unwitting pawns in a game of greed by their husbands. “I get what every woman is looking for in a relationship, care and attention from my man,” she empasises. The only difference is that in polygamy, at least one other woman is seeking the same, which may grow into a competition and we all know competitions get ugly. Jeniffer refuses to admit to any jealousy or competition. “I have learnt to be at peace. I knew there would be others from the get go. He was straightforward. He loves me even if we are many,” he shows us he cares!