Two Kenyan men sign agreement to marry the same woman!

For years, two men from Mombasa county in Kenya -  Sylvester Mwendwa and Elijah Kiman, had been fighting over a woman who is in love with both of them. The woman had been having affairs with both men for more than four years and apparently refused to choose between them.

Now the suitors, have made peace by agreeing that they would both marry Joyce Wambui and help to raise her children. "She is like the central referee," said Mwendwa to the BBC when he first went public with the story. "She can say whether she wants me or my colleague."

Defending the "marriage", Mr Mwendwa told the BBC Focus on Africa program that while he may acting in breach of the law, he had decided to enter into a contract with Mr Kimani to end their rivalry.

"It could have been very dangerous if the other man would have come to her house and caught me... So our agreement is good as it sets boundaries and helps us keep peace."

Mr Mwendwa told the BBC he loved the woman and said the contract would "set boundaries" and "keep the peace".

PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA Mr Sylvester Mwendwa, one of the two husbands who had agreed to share a woman in tears on August 26, 2013 after being thrown out of the ‘marriage’ agreement by the wife.

PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA Mr Sylvester Mwendwa, one of the two husbands who had agreed to share a woman in tears after being thrown out of the ‘marriage’ agreement by the wife.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

The union isn't entirely set in stone; official recognition of the marriage would require proof that polyandry -- the term for a one-woman, multiple-man union -- is rooted in custom for the three participants.

Lawyers said the "marriage" would only be recognized if they could prove polyandry - a woman having more than one husband - was part of their custom.

At present, Kenya's laws on the matter are a bit hazy since the country is home to so many different ethnic groups and cultural mores. Polygamy as it typically occurs -- one man and multiple women -- is widely practiced in Kenya and condoned by the state, though not all unions are fully recognized in a legal sense.

 

Community policing officer Adhalah Abdulrahman persuaded the two men to marry the woman after he saw them fighting over her in Mombasa county, the local Daily Nation newspaper reports.

"We have agreed that from today we will not threaten or have jealous feelings because of our wife, who says she's not ready to let go of any of us," the agreement says, Kenya's NTV station reports.

"Each one will respect the day set aside for him. We agree to love each other and live peacefully. No-one has forced us to make this agreement," it adds.

Mr Mwendwa said her parents had given their blessing, while he is planning to pay the bride price.

The woman is a widow with two children.

Mr Mwendwa told the BBC he did not marry the woman simply to satisfy his sexual desires but because he loved her and, most of all, her children.

"I have never been called a dad and her two children call me daddy," he said.

He said he hoped to have his own children with the woman, but she would have to decide.

Such is the case in many countries across Africa. Polygamy is more common in majority-Muslim areas, such as eastern Kenya, northern Nigeria, and some areas of North Africa. But plenty of other religions allow the practice as well, and polygamous unions can be found across the continent from Benin to Tanzania to South Africa, where President Jacob Zuma married his fourth wife last year.

"In several sub-Saharan countries, more than 10 percent of married women are in a polygamous union," according to a 2011 study from James Fenske, an economics professor at Oxford University. "Between Senegal and Tanzania stretches a 'polygamy belt' in which it is common to find that more than one-third of married women are polygamous."

 

Opponents of polygamy point out that it leads to poorer economic outcomes for families and higher incidences of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. The practice also has bad implications for women's rights -- though in Wambui's case, the roles have been reversed. It's no wonder that the level of outside attention she and her husbands have received is unprecedented, and that some Kenyans were outraged by the union.

Indeed, things have not gone well for Mwendwa since the story was run by the BBC. A follow-up article from Kenya's own Daily Nation newspaper revealed that Mwendwa was fired from his job and cast from his home after the news went public. "I cannot go back home because I do not feel safe; I know Wambui is hurt," he said.

He added that he still loves his shared wife as much as ever: “It’s not because she is a superwoman, but because she is a hard-worker and very beautiful."
Sources: Ibtimes, BBC


 

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