Why Husbands Allowed Their Wives to Sire Kids With Other Men

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    Kikuyu women at a traditional event in 2006
  • It's such a pity that as Africans, we have forsaken our culture. We have embraced Western culture into our livelihoods, and this is coming at a steep price. There were cultural systems in place to check many present-day problems.

    For instance, this hullabaloo over DNA. I don't understand it. Let me give you a sneak preview of the Ameru culture.

    Married men in Meru were allowed to have concubines. They were called 'Bankiro'. If you've lived around these regions, you've surely heard a few elderly women call each other 'Bankiro'. These concubines were women who were already married to other men.

    Point to note: Not the single, beautiful village girls.

    King Mswati III
    An undated image of King Mswati III of Swaziland, Africa's last absolute monarch (file image)

    No, concubines were women already married to other men. Usually, a Meru man would consider a concubine from the wives of his age-mates. Especially, close guys who shared a circumcision date.

    And, it's not an exclusively Meru tradition. The Maasai, too, had an arrangement not so dissimilar. That's how the Maasai phrase 'Planting the spear came to be'. The message was clear.

    Basically, after a long week - or weeks - herding communal goats and camels, a Moran would come home - and, find a spear in front of his door. Remember, a few Morans would be left behind to guard the Manyatta, and, of course, these duties.

    The Moran respected a planted spear. He'd walk away. In retro-speak, 'anakanyaga kubwa kubwa'. Case closed. He wouldn't wait in hiding to spear the guy warming his wife's bed.

    Anyways, in Meru, the concubines (Bankiros') enjoyed a special bond. They'd dance together in village fairs. They'd exchange millet recipes. They'd tease, and swap intimate gossip about their shared men. They sired kids.

    Why were women encouraged to have kids from different men, while already married?

    In those days, there was a thing about lineage, or family curses. These curses were generational. They were named accordingly by various Meru sub tribes and clans. The main sub tribe (Imenti) called them - 'Iciaro' or 'Nthenge'.  

    It was believed that in the event of such curse(s) those kids sired by a concubine (Bankiro) could survive because they didn't carry the blood from the cursed family line. They'd survive extermination.

    And, perhaps, a bit of Western education has opened our eyes about genetic diseases or medical conditions that'd be taken as 'family curses'. Mental disease, for instance

    A married woman siring kids with different men protected that lineage of genetic diseases. Say, a family with a mental illness history would have one less child at risk.

    Ingenious, right?

    File image of Maasai Morans
    Maasai Morans head to a traditional ceremony in Kajiado in 2016

    Oh, and the little thing about upgrading the family's Intelligence Quotent (IQ) level. Some desired physical traits, too. In a family of utter idiots (no offense meant), you'd find a really clever kid. A family of short, stocky and dark people, you'd easily spot a lanky, light-skinned fellow with an athletic build. Women called the shots.

    No man would harm his wife because another man has sired kids with her - while she's married to him. No man discriminated kids sired by a concubine (Bankiro).

    Another thing. No man passed away without kids in Meru.

    In the event that a woman gets married to an impotent man, the family would hold a crisis meeting. They'd pick a man from the man's family who'd sire kids with his wife - on his behalf.

    It'd be forbidden to speak of it. No outsider would know of this arrangement. The impotent man would bring up the kids as his own.

    Everyone would sleep happy.

    That same culture had a solution for lazy, or girls seen as not well-endowed physically. That's political-speak for ugly. They'd be married off as second, or third wives. Every woman would be married.

    Oh, there were no divorces in the land. We've imported that, too. And, no one hardly ever got kids out of wedlock.

    What you do with this information is up to you.