Tuesday, January 5, 2010

SA President: Five Weddings, Three Wives

Another installment of "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore" ... World Cup edition.

Far be it from us to condemn someone's cultural traditions.

If Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, has the cash and the patience and bravery to be married five times -- but, most interestingly, to three women at once -- well, more power to him. A better man than I. (Though perhaps not as good as Brigham Young, or some of the early Mormon polygamists of truly epic marital proclivites.)

I didn't know that polygamy was going strong in some precincts of South Africa. We get that straightened out in this story from the Johannesburg Times, which plays this as straight as it would a couple of college kids getting hitched.

Note that Zuma apparently is considering wife No. 6 -- which would be four at once. And the man is 68? You go, bro!

The other issue with polygamy ... if a couple of guys marry 4-5 times ... what does that mean for 7-8 men whose female counterparts (assuming a 50-50 split between genders) have been snapped up by two guys?

Seems as if we have the beginning of trouble within that society. Women without marital prospects is often a sad thing. Men without marital prospects often is a dangerous thing.

I believe the one-at-a-time thing that most of the world is working with is to encourage more stable societies. Sometimes it has religious sanction. But it just seems to make sense.

Anyway, if you go to South Africa, and you meet a major player ... the women with him may be his wives. All of them. Just to avoid some faux pas, etc.

If you didn't follow the link, here is the bit about the polygamy issue:

"The 68-year-old president is a proud Zulu and has repeatedly defended polygamy despite those who sneer at the practice as outdated, especially in the age of Aids.

"Though this was Zuma's fifth wedding, Mabhija is his third current wife. One of his wives, Kate Mantsho, reportedly committed suicide in 2000, and Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma divorced him in 1998.

"The president is still married to his first wife, Sizakele Khumalo, whom he met in 1959. She has no children by Zuma because the president was arrested shortly after their marriage and had to spend many years in exile.

"Zuma married Nompumelelo Ntuli, his fourth wife, three years ago in a traditional wedding at his home.

"He is now said to be preparing to take yet another wife and was last week traditionally engaged to Durban's Gloria Bongi Ngema. The Zuma family, however, will say nothing about the date of his next wedding.

Many of those attending the ceremony yesterday saw nothing wrong with Zuma taking more than one wife.

Ntombi Masinga, a 40-year-old cleaner at a local lodge, defended Zuma's polygamy.

"Unlike in the West, Zulu culture does not limit how many wives a man can have," said Masinga. "The president is well within his rights to marry as many women as he wants.

"Who am I to object to a cultural practice spanning decades and accepted by our ancestors?"

S'bu Mdlalose, a local businessman, said he was happy to be at Zuma's wedding.

"He is proud to be Zulu. It is a good thing and I think some people frown on it because they don't understand it."
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