©Isaac Inwang

I have read a lot of views, thoughts and varying opinions on the topic of POLYGAMY from different sources, especially from people in the South East and South South on social media, but my own argument is that both monogamy and polygamy are a function of culture and nothing more.

As a Sociologist, we (sociologists) don’t see religion as an isolated institution. Rather, we look at religion from the prism of culture. Yes, religion is just one of the many parts of the cultural whole.

From my deductions from the varying opinions about the issue, I can confidently say that most of the views of people on polygamy are shaped by their religious backgrounds and orientations and nothing more.

The way a Muslim perceives polygamy is different from the way a Christian perceives it. And in most parts of the South East and South South, adherents of the African Traditional Religions are very comfortable with polygamy because it was what their ancestors practiced.

The famous Oni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II), recently married his 7th wife, a PhD holder, and some people raised eyebrows, while others criticised the Monarch.

But people need to understand that the Oba is a custodian of the traditions and values of his people and to all intents and purposes, his tradition encourages and supports polygamy and the Kabiyesi has done no wrong.

Kabiyesi is not a Christian. He is a Traditionalist.

One curious thing about religion is that adherents of every religion believe that their own is the best and the right one and that those who don’t embrace their own religions are “unbelievers” and “unclean.” But this is debatable.

On a personal level, that I have chosen monogamy is not because polygamy is bad. It is simply because I am a Christian and my religion forbids it. But there are some Christians who embrace polygamy and claim that there is no place in the Bible where it was forbidden.

Truth is, most women in the South East and South South are not comfortable with polygamy, especially those born in the 80s, 90s and 2000s when Christian values have become firmly entrenched in the two regions.

But historically, polygamy was the dominant marriage pattern in the South East and South South until the Europeans and Imperialists brought christianity to our shores alongside their own values and subjugated and altered our cultural orientations.

My Late maternal grandmother, Mrs Nko Frank Obot didn’t see polygamy the way modern women of today would see it because it wasn’t a big deal in her time.

Then, my Late maternal grandfather, Chief Frank Obot Etok Oko had left his village of Ikot Enua in Ikono LGA to my grandmother’s village of Ibong Ikot Ebok, Otoro, in Abak LGA and married her as his sixth wife and the other wives welcomed her with open arms. He married two more wives after my grandmother before his death in 1965.

And in my village of Ndon Eyo in Onna LGA of Akwa Ibom State, my Late great grandfather, Chief Inwang Ikpo Udobong, married more than 7 wives, while his son, my Late grandfather, Chief Nda Akpan Inwang, married four wives.

Christianity has upstaged a lot of our traditional sentiments and socialization patterns have changed, hence the way some of us perceive polygamy nowadays.

But we must have an open mind and respect the traditions and customs of others and stop looking at everyone from our own cultural lenses because culture is dynamic just as it is unique.

I am a realist. I will never criticise polygamy or claim that the monogamy that I embrace is the best.

It is a free world. People are entitled to their choices and preferences.

Whatever makes you happy, do it, insofar as you don’t break the laws of the land.

Whether it is polygamy, monogamy or polyandry, as long as the ‘dramatis personae’ are Happy, they should be left alone to enjoy their lives and their privacy.

We should stop attempting to impose our worldviews on others. Variety is the spice of life.


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