By Busi Khumalo
Infidelity amongst Zimbabweans seems to be prevailing at alarming levels. Almost every week we hear of people committing suicide, committing murder, fighting and having public emotional break downs because of infidelity. What is really going on and how can it be solved?
It seems to be tearing apart the fibre of harmony in our societies. A number of people seem to agree that men cheat by nature. It should be expected and accepted and women should know better than to leave a marriage over cheating because they will meet it elsewhere.
Some make the excuse that their fore fathers had many wives and thus it is their culture which was re-defined by the Europeans Our forefathers did not have a culture of infidelity. Everything that they did was done for a purpose. They did not just have sex with a woman because she was attractive
Imagine, women during that time were always exposed, with breasts out, buttocks and hips out and yet they were not abused. They had such high consciousness, respect and focus that a female’s body could be seen as just anatomy but at the same time recognised at something that could provide pleasure and reproduction.
The pleasure that could be derived from a female’s body was only appreciated and highlighted within the right institution (marriage) and in the privacy of two people, not when people are going about their business. Clearly, the mind-sets of our fore fathers were highly sophisticated and should not be cheapened by a confused, sex crazed generation. It’s very difficult to comprehend this in our time where sex is no longer sacred.
Some argue that it’s African culture that men should marry more than one wife. What is culture? Culture is defined as the way a group pf people do things. There are work cultures, family cultures, tribe cultures and national culture etc. It’s important to note that culture dynamic as well as time reflective and changes according the changes in people’s realities and how they respond to those changes.
There is always good reasoning behind the way do things and especially the way our forefathers did things. They investigated their environments and responded instinctively to them up until they came up with sustainable ways to adapt- these became their customs and traditions, forming a general culture.
Polygamy worked and was necessary for our fore fathers for several reasons. Polygamy was necessary to populate the world during the perilous times of wars. There was a time where raids and wars were the order of the day worldwide as each tribe and nation fought to gain economic and political dominion. Men, being physically stronger than women, were the ones sent to fight and millions died every year.
This led to a huge population ratio deficit between men and women. Polygamy became popular because of three main factors.
1. Economic factors–
i. Man power was an important symbol of dominance and a great wealth multiplier.
The more able-bodied people you had in your family, tribe or country the economically better off you were. Tasks could be shared equally.
For this reason, since women are the only ones who can bear children, it was necessary for men to have more than one wife and make as many children as possible.
ii. Women were economically dependent on men and because there were marginally less men than women, it was inevitable that a single man would have to take care of several women.
2. Social factors- It was necessary to balance the population deficit between men and women. Secondly, during that time great importance was placed on bloodline. People took pride in belonging to a certain family or tribe and the only way that one could belong to a family or tribe was through birth. During that time, there were no means to test DNA to see who the father was.
So you can imagine that if a woman had several partners it would not be known who the father is and which family the child belongs to. It was for this reason than the idea of a woman having several sexual partners was frowned upon and carried heavy penalties.
3. Political factors- Bigger populations were able to cultivate bigger economies and armies, therefore earn political dominance. Nowadays we do not face the same problems that our fore father did. The world is well populated and the population gap between men and women has been levelled out.
The economic empowerment of women and higher standards of living today brings about new challenges. For a marriage institute to work deeper psycho-social relationships between married couples are necessary to sustain harmonious, fulfilled and empowered families. Polygamy cannot deliver on that deeper level. What of the argument that men have always naturally desired multiple partners.
Let me bring your attention to the horrible custom of female mutilation that was practiced in some cultures. It is very wrong but what problem were they trying to solve? It was the problem of female infidelity. If this problem did not exist, such drastic and disturbing measures would not be taken.
So if you think women of the old and now do not desire multiple partners think again. There are many women who cheat but men don’t often admit being cheated on as much as women do that is why it looks like men cheat more.
So this goes out to both men and women, let us yearn to have the high consciousness and mind-sets of our fore fathers who were able to solve their social, political and economic conundrums amicably, not by copying anyone but by assessing their situations and coming up with dynamic solutions.
- Busi Khumalo is an Entrepreneur and blogger. Article appears on Khuluma Afrika.