From a polygamy snob to a realist

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. When a politician dies, women are bound to come out of the woodwork claiming this, that and the other. The situation surrounding the death of Senator Kajwang’ is no exception. But our over-the-top reaction to events unfolding is only further evidence that we are a nation on life support and our oxygen is gossip, mystery and intrigue.

As Wife Number One (she and the late Senator had two children together) stuck her chest out, held her head high and carried herself with the kind of ceremony usually reserved for royalty, the alleged Wife Number Two, was fighting for the right to publicly mourn her husband and the father of her own two children. She was ferocious in the face of adversity even as her bewildered daughter looked on.

As this was happening, sources claimed that Kajwang’ had yet another wife in Kisumu, with whom he allegedly sired two children; this information has remained unconfirmed.

Meanwhile, people whispered about a third woman who allegedly rushed the late Senator to Mater hospital on the night he died. In life this network of wives and children must have been a song and dance, in death it is a right, royal mess.

Listen, I used to be a polygamy snob. A card carrying member of the one-woman-one-man brigade. But let’s face it, multi-partner relationships are an African reality. Tupende tusipende. It might not be right, but it’s factual. And the truth is, women are complicit.

Men are not growing their relationship networks with other men (well, at least the majority of them aren’t), they are doing it with women. So, she who has no sin can continue to shout herself silly over the so called MWKs (mpango wa kandos) or take the more scenic route and mind her own business.

The vitriol on social media platforms against the other women in Kajwang’s life was astonishing. Ladies scrambled to protect the institution of the first wife, much as you would the Office of the Presidency, virtually spitting on Faith et al because they were perceived to have approached the throne from the back door.

With all due respect to the dead, if there is blame to be shared, the late Otieno Kajwang’ must take his fair share of it. This verbal abuse from woman to woman is unnecessary and quite frankly, undignified. If the women in the arrangement had learned to live with their predicament, who are the rest of us to judge?

As we’re busy drawing fine lines and boundaries to contain the influence and expand the definition of who and what an MWK is supposed to be, men are coming out smelling like roses.

When the former Prime Minister received President Uhuru Kenyatta at the late Senator’s home in Runda with Mrs Rose Kajwang’ at his side, he effectively framed the narrative around how Kajwang’ would be remembered – an honourable man with a loving wife. The other women had been relegated to the back end of history, a place where they will only be remembered in whispers, perpetually under the shadow of scandal.

You may not have any sympathy for Faith etc, but what now happens to the children? Do they become non-entities because folk want to remember their father as a ‘good’ man? Are we expecting them to hang their heads in shame for the remainder of their days because they were born out of wedlock? Is out of wedlock even a thing in the 21st Century?

Why do we feign shock and horror? Time has come when we should make peace with the fact that the eyes of an African man will wander, and there will usually be an African woman who will raise her head, meet his gaze and hold it, be it for 19 minutes or 19 years. It’s our interpretation of the human condition – always has been and quite possibly, always will be. That does not make it right, only factual. If there ever was a better fit for the phrase ‘accept and move on’, this is it. I’m just saying. Feel free to throw stones.