polygamy in africa Essay

Submitted By donjules
Words: 1254
Pages: 6

I have chosen to write my first reaction paper on the portion of The African Experience by Vincent B. Khapoya that has to do with polygamy. His writings include some factual statistics on the practice in the continent of Africa and then move on to possible reasons that polygamy came about and why it perpetuated. This is where I have the quam with his writings, I think that he interjects his own beliefs and defends polygamy in the entire chapter with all of his power. Khapoya writes about seven different reasons that the practice came to be, I will show that these reasons are flimsy at best and there is really only one reason for polygamy. I will say that I believe in a consenting adult theory, if a person is sound of mind and of the appropriate age determined by the respective society then should be able to live how they would like and interact with other adults however they see fit. Just to be clear, I am NOT bashing polygamy, I just want to call a spade a spade. Khapoya’s first reason is that men outnumber women and that it was seen as a necessity to be married in most Africa societies. In line with that logic there would have to be men that HAD to marry more than one woman in order have enough marriages to go around. This specious statement might have a logical argument but he give no evidence. He states that men had a higher mortality rate than women, but he never says by how much. He says that men had dangerous occupations but neglects to consider the women in the same societies were not immune to the same dangers. Also he says that men were lost in raids on other villages, well could it not be assumed that in the process of a raid that women were lost too? Civilian women are killed in attacks today, why should we assume that that same fact does not hold true then. Even if men were a high commodity, was the ratio really two, three, or even four to one in order to make this necessary? If it were so important to be married was it made sure that everyone was married, even the poor, weak and unhealthy men? The second reason is for helping hands. Khapoya says that is was necessary for agrarian African societies to have an abundance of people to help in the fields and farms. While no doubt that polygamy can produce more children per number of adults, why is that necessary? One couple can produce plenty of children, and I can speak from personal experienHow many people were really needed when they were not yet commercial farming but producing solely for their own consumption? The book also talks about how African societies were very communal. Why then would the neighbors and others in the villages not help those doing the field work? Also Khapoya mentions that when colonization took place polygamy went up because they needed more people for farming. Is this really the reason that the polygamy rates went up? Is this really the causation or just merely just a correlation? I ask because making people get married and start having children is not the fastest way to fill job positions. And if Western rule enhanced the practice is it really an African practice? In the third reason says that there was a higher mortality rate especially among men, but by how much? Where is the research? Again he never mentioned any data or sources of his conclusions. From his own experience he states that in his father’s immediate family only him and his brother survived, but that that is a family that has two males and no females. I understand that is only one example but if it happened once it is likely this not an isolated occurrence. In the end of the paragraph he says that the mortality rate is much better now and improving, so why has the practice disappeared? In the fourth reason Khapoya says that the practice of polygamy was allowed for the noble reason of taking care of the wife and children of a male family member that passed away. Taking care of a family that lost their provider is extremely noble, but why did the men have to take…