ANTHRO 110 (141)
Cornel M. Pop
Polygyny in Tanzanian society (Sub Saharan Africa)
Polygyny is defined as marrying of one man with multiple wives. At same time men have more than one wife. Many countries believe in polygyny while others do not. Polygyny is still practicing in some societies such as Mormons society, Tanzanians society, Senegal society etc. Polygyny always not lead to dispute. Polygyny is still found in the Kaguru part of Tanzania. The Kaguru live in hilly area in the region of Tanzania. In the Kaguru, people practice slash -and-burn cultivation. Many women are in favor of polygyny whereas some are against of polygyny. Polygyny can be performed with the willingness of spouse too. As I, shed lights the benefits, drawbacks, causes and reasons behind polygyny in my outline. I will explain the advantages and disadvantages, characteristics of polygyny in my upcoming paragraphs.
“Kaguru marriage is characterized by the transfer of bride wealth that gives the husband certain rights to the children born from the union”(Meekers, Franklin, and Meeker 1994).
There are plenty of benefits of polygyny. The first advantage of polygyny is that if one woman is not able to have child then man can have his child from another wives. If one wife is not able to fulfill the needs of his husband then man can fulfill his desires from other co-wives. Polygyny is very beneficial for infertile female as if she is not able to have a child, she can discuss with her husband to have a child from his other partners which can prevent divorce and can built a good relationship between them. Furthermore, polygyny reduces the work load. If there will be more wives then they can share the work between them which decrease work load. One can take care of children while others can do house chaos, can clean the house etc. It will reduce their stress regarding work. If they will share the work then they can spend more time together. While doing work they can know more about each other. They can share the burden of work between them. Moreover, if they will share the work then they will have more leisure time in which they can do gossips about others. Wives can discuss their problems with each other. They can have a kind of kitty parties which will make their relationships stronger. In addition, senior wives can get the opportunity to share the work and can increase the rank of hard-working wife. Furthermore, polygyny can improve the economic situation of the family as if there is shortage of money in the house then wives can do employment so that they can improve their family conditions. If they will do more work than they will get more money which can increase their standard of living. Wives will get more employment opportunity by which they make good relationship with family members. Moreover, with polygyny children and old age people are taken better as if there will be more partners then the care of children and old age people will be good. For making good reputation in front of family members they will take more care of children as by playing with them, giving good treatment to elder people by taking care of their food, clothes etc. If there will be more wives then there will be more children. Children can help in various works such as in business they can help thier father and in households work they can help their mothers. It will also hhelp them in improving their family’s economic condition. Children will play with each other which will make the relationship of brotherhood. They will also discuss their problems with each other and they can help each other in homework also. Moreover, if one man is having more than one wife, he feels special because he will have more control on his wives which can make him proud. He feels very proud in the society. If there will be more wives then they will have more mutual understanding. The environment of the family will be co-operative. There will be positive attitude in the family.
Everything has its pros and cons. Polygyny have various disadvantages. If one husband is having more than one wife various problems can occur in their relationship. If there will be more wives then husband will not be able to share his love between all of his wives. He will not be able to give his time to all wives. In their relationship conflicts and misunderstanding can occur. Due to misunderstanding and conflicts they fight with each other which can have bad iimpression on the family members. It will lead to bad teaching for the children. They will learn to fight and it will also affect their education. Moreover, in wife’s jealousy can exist. As partners will have to share the things such as husband’s love, family responsibilities etc. In jealousy wives hate each other. With the factor of jealousy women replicate each other actions to be like them. They make funny names of each other’s. Co-wives give false information of other wives to the husband so that they can gain love and sympathy of the husband. Furthermore, family relationship can be more complicated as if the man has children from more than wives each wife will want his husband to love her child more than others. Wives put all of their efforts to attract the husband to love her child more. However, if wives will share their work then they will have more leisure time. They remain free all time which can affect their health also. They will become lazier and they would not like to work. In free time they would make plans how they can gain sympathy from family members. Every wife will want to supervise other co-wives. She would like to have control on other wives. If one man will have more wives then that can lead to more population. He will have more children with multiple wives which can affect our economic growth also. The biggest disadvantage of polygyny is HIV aids. If one man will have more wives then it can cause him sexually. Their will more infection between them. HIV aids is very serious disease. If he is having sexual relations with more than one person then he will be a part of HIV aids. Polygyny can create negative attitude towards marriage. The value of marriage will be decrease among women due to more wives. Viral infection can spread between co-wives which can reduce their life expectancy. It can also affect the future generation. As man have more than one wife then no proper care is given to wives. If one wife is pregnant then no proper treatment or special care is given to her. More complication can happen during the pregnancy because no special diet or care is given to her which can have bad impact on her pregnancy. As we all know that new born baby is totally dependent on mother’s diets. If mother will not have proper diet then baby will not be healthier. If there will be more wives of a man than he would not be able to give proper time to his family. He will be got busy with his wives. He will share his problems with his co-wives instead of sharing with his family members which can create conflicts among family members.
To conclude, polygyny has plenty of advantages and disadvantages. But advantages overcome the disadvantages of polygyny. Mostly, women do not support polygyny up to some extent. The main advantages of polygyny are that it reduces work load, create positive attitude in family, cooperation is built etc. The main disadvantages of polygyny are that infections are created through HIV aids, creates negative attitude towards the marriage, create conflicts between co-wives and family members, jealousy occurs etc. Mostly, women and children have bad affects polygyny.