So, when did polygyny become a distasteful arrangement in Nigeria?
I am confused. This entire side-chick syndrome didn't exist a decade, or so, ago because most of you did come from a polygyny setup. And if you weren't aware of it initially, you were fully informed when your father died. Branches of his polygyny sprouted from the family tree at his burial, and you met new siblings that lived just as well as you did.
We despise polygyny because it isn't "woke" enough. That's the stuff our fathers did. Polyandry is being applauded in some quarters because, well, it sounds different. It's the same way we embrace feminism without having a clue what to do with it.
While you are all slashing the cheek of some side-chick for trespassing, realize that polygyny is going nowhere.
As long as the Nigerian masses still live below a dollar daily; as long as there are no jobs, no water, poor institutions that meet our health, legal, educational needs... as long as our aspirations cannot come true under the Nigerian dream, sorry, nightmare, polygyny is the only way average Nigerians can meet their needs. The few successful ones will have to love, sex, and provide for the majority of broken dreams. It's that simple.
I had a relationship where the account manager of my boyfriend would call by 11pm, flirting and throwing all the green lights she can afford to give. You think she is calling to share the word of God? She probably has a "fiance" somewhere, but she can see very clearly this customer has the kind of money that will sort her out for life. If he agreed to the chase, and ask that she come over to wherever he was at that moment, you really think she's going to turn him down? Of course not! It's a mix of a lot of errors - poverty is one. Not blatant poverty, but lower middle-class poverty that is always one cheque away from being broke.
Polygyny will thrive in a country where credit facilities do not exist. If you want a house, you're going to have to bring your N1.2m annual rent along. No monthly payment, except you, live in Oshodi, paying N4,800 monthly for a crib that occupies you and a chicken. If you have dreams, the system doesn't support you. You need a car? You'll have to bring the entire N8.6m cash along. Bank facilities? Don't even bother. As tough as the system is in Nigeria, religion allows you to act like you are against the lifestyle that keeps you.
Polyandry is hip now because a few "civilized" countries talk about it like a cool sport. And feminism along with transexual rights are focusing on empowering women. However, polygyny reminds us of the patriarchy we need to dismantle. But as long as Nigeria is concerned, I am yet to see how polygyny is a bad thing.
In third world countries, many women rise out of poverty because polygyny exist. This country has no proper system for alimony, child support, spousal support... what we have is a man who is willing to love you and take care of you. It's belittling, yes. But so is profound lack. If you don't want to live that way, you'll need to work hard and think hard. But we are not thinkers per se.
There's a girl on Instagram that hops around celebrities' comment section to drop this:
"Plix I want to be in a movie. How do I do it? Help me."
She's an adult. But she wants a route that wouldn't require any kind of work. At the end of the day, she's going to find someone who'll invite her over to a guesthouse, have sex, play a dead role in a movie that mean absolutely nothing, continue with the sex for roles hoping it'll eventually mean something for her career, get pregnant, become a baby mama and probably get a neat crib at Mafoluku to keep baby and mama happy.
I worked with a writer once who drove a badass Mercedes Benz, hardly repeated a dress twice and lived in Lekki (No, it wasn't company accommodation). Me, her boss, was riding a Rav4 and living on the mainland. Do you really think her staff writer wage could afford her that lifestyle? No, it is not her parents' money either. I earn ten times more than she could ever be paid as a writer. Yet she lived an easier life. We never talked about it, of course. It is none of my business. But that, to a large extent, is what I call "polygyny lite" - when a man keeps you happy whilst you roll your buttocks in circles to please him.
These things will always be with us, because poverty is always around the corner, and poverty is not an easy option.
Joy Isi Bewaji is a prolific writer, editor, columnist, Managing Director at Happenings Radio, co-founder of wahalanow.com, and Creative Director at The Network Bank.