Written by Leonard Wamalwa
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Mzee Wanyonyi Machapeli with his two of the living three wives outside his wife's house. The polygamous man says young men of the current generation should maintain one wife to be able to sustain them. [PHOTOS | Leonard Wamalwa | West Fm]
Men of the 21st Century might be the most challenged and endangered when it comes to the number of wives to marry or girlfriends to posses bearing in mind the ever changing times that have seen technological and behavioral advancements.
The most taunting task that faces a man in the current society is how to marry a second wife after the first one becomes nagging, demanding and rude or uncooperative to him.
However, despite such challenges posed before men of modern society, few of them can be daring enough to announce their bold decision to marry a second, third and fourth wives to their first wife.
Such fear or confrontation that could cause shivers and stress to a man who is looking for a way out or an alternative to such a nagging wife were not in the vocabulary of 84 year old Mzee Wanyonyi Machapeli of Makhonge village of Bikeke area in Trans Nzoia West District.
With four wives that he has lived with for over fifty years, Wanyonyi says that during his hay days he could not hesitate to marry an extra wife at will with no consultation from any one including his first or second wife.
“Ni shida tu, ona vile mimi niko maisha ya umasikini tu hata kumbe nilkosa kufanya hivyo,” he said in Swahili meaning that and I quote, “It is only problems, look at me the way I am in poverty I do not live well the way I expected. I regret the move to marry many wives” end of quote.
Accompanied by his two of the three wives surviving after the demise of one of them, he urged young people of this generation not to attempt to marry more than one wife saying that they will not manage them and will not attain their desired development.
The octogenarian who was born in Bokoli Village of Bungoma County arrived in the settlement scheme in the early 1940s to work as a teenage casual labourer famously known as kijana wa kamba and worked in his now neighboring Machungwa farm then belonging to a white man known as Pokol.
Wanyonyi who started the casual laborer away from his homeland before being circumcised had to retreat back home in 1942 to undergo the initiation ceremony as Omukinyikeu No.4 ageset of the Bukusu community before coming back to continue with his job.
He married his first wife Joyna Nakhumicha in 1952 who was followed by Ayuma Nabangala in 1964 who has since passed on followed by Rabbecca Naliaka in 1973 before the last born wife Sarah Nanjala arrived in 1977.
Despite Wanyonyi regretting his decision to marry such a large number of wives he still joked that if he still had energy he could still marry or bring more wives as he termed marrying as bringing.
However, the good thing about his family is that the wives had shown cooperation and unity of the highest order with the children not distinguishing between who are whose mother as they knew themselves as the children of their father.
The last born wife confessed that on arrival, the elderly wives of the home warmly welcomed her and treated her as their own daughter and not co-wife hence nurturing the mutual co-existence between them as wives of one man.
“Since I was married to my husband and received the warm welcome from my elderly wives, I have never called any of them by her name but I always call them by the name of mother because they have all along acted as my mother,” the fourth wife Sarah Nanjala told journalists in the interview at the home.
Wanyonyi's last wife Sarah Nanjala speaking to journalists as her husband and the first wife Joyna Nakhumicha listen and look on. She says she was welcomed to the family warmly and that has enabled them to be in harmony.
But when Mzee Wanyonyi was asked as to what method or trick that he used to have the wives stay harmoniously without regular quarrels witnessed in many such homes, he said he did not even contribute much towards the harmony but it was just initiated by the wives themselves.
He said that his was to instill discipline in the home as the head of the family as the wives amicably agreed to stay peacefully as they fended for their children alongside him whether in poverty or riches.
The old man and his two wives present echoed their advice to the young generation that they should not dare try to attempt anything more than one wife noting that their times are not the same as the current times.
“When I was marrying many wives I thought because my father had many herds of cattle that could sustain me forever in my marriage but then I was wrong and have struggled to live and sustain my bloated family of wives and children,” Wanyonyi revealed.
He said that one should only go for another wife in circumstances where the first one has divorced or unfortunately passed on but not to have two or three at the same time.
His wife Nanjala added that the current generation of women cannot tolerate or withstand a co-wife as it were in her times when she was accorded support and cooperation from his co-wives who in the current times are seen as warring rivals who in some cases do not even want to see face to face and are always suspicious and wishing that ill befalls the other hence one should not dream of such a venture.
Mzee Wanyonyi has a family of 19 children, 59 grand children and over 50 great grand children.
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