From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Like most African communities, men in Igbide and Enwhe, both in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, are polygamous, even though most of them profess Christianity.
But there appears to be a new trend among prospective bachelors in the two agrarian communities.
They now perform marriage rites for more than one bride the same day with the consent of the families of the respective brides.
Although it could not be ascertained when this practice of marrying more than one woman same day started, it was learnt that a certain man from oil-rich Uzere community, within the same locality, started it.
And since he ignited this fire of love for two brides, some bachelors have embraced it, and it has become a trend in both communities.
It was gathered that more than 10 grooms have performed traditional marriage rites for two women on the same day in Igbide, while there are about six in Enwhe that have equally done the same thing.
Mr. Ochuko Uloho joined the fray in April this year when he got hooked to two women in Enwhe.
Uloho, who said he was a businessman, told our correspondent that he carefully planned the bride price paying ceremonies to ensure that they did not overlap.
“When you want to do it, you plan it. We are from the same village, meaning that you can go to the first one and book that the bride price will be taken from morning till 12 noon. The other one will be from 1pm till about 4pm. The next day, you do the reception,” he said.
Uloho said it was not part of the culture of Isoko people to marry two wives in one day, adding, however, that their tradition was not against the practice.
Saying that he was a Christian, Uloho argued that the doctrine of Christianity was not against marrying more than one wife, noting that there is a certain general overseer (GO) in Enwhe who married four women at a go.
“His (the GO) own was not given publicity maybe because he was a prophet. I was the first groom to make it public. I did my marriage on April 11, 2021.
“I am a Christian. To some extent, the Bible said it that as an apostle, if you cannot keep yourself, the Bible advised that you can marry one.
“Marrying more than one is not an offense or a sin in the Bible. You can take the example from King Solomon,” Uloho contended.
On his reason for being polygamous, he said he didn’t do it because of the popular belief that the population of women was now more than men.
According to him, he is being polygamous to surpass his father who married one woman.
“For me, my father married one and I needed to marry two; I need to surpass my dad. When my father was alive, he told me to live above him. He had one, I needed to have two,” he said.
On his part, Mr. Ekpe Akpove, who set the internet buzzing in August this year when he re-enacted the practice at Igbide, said he did it because of his love for the two brides, Kome and Maro.
Akpove, a 2009 National Diploma (ND) graduate in Business Administration from Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro, now University of Science and Technology, is an apprentice fish farmer in Igbide.
The 34-year-old said he met Kome in 2008 before Maro whom he met in 2010.
Both women had three children each for him before he decided to regularise the relationships.
“I love them both equally and that is why I have decided to get married to them. They both have three children each for me. So, I had to do the right thing and pay their bride price and be married to them legally,” he said.
Like Uloho, Akpove, who also professes Christianity, saw not wrong in a man being polygamous.
“It is not wrong to marry two wives. Look at King Solomon in the Bible, he had several wives and concubines. I don’t see anything bad in it.
“My pastor is aware of the scripture but you know human beings are always difficult.
“My marriage was not solemnised in the church, as marrying two wives is not allowed in my church,” he said.
Akpove reiterated that marrying two or more women same day was not part of the culture in Isokoland, but polygamy was a thing of choice, if the man is capable of taking care of the wives conveniently.
He said paying the bride price of his two wives same day was quite stressful, adding that he was determined to achieve his objective.
However, some Christian adherents have disagreed with Uloho and Akpove that the religion permits polygamy.
Apostle Victor Sorokwu of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Asaba contends that those practicing polygamy in whatever guise were only returning to African Traditional Religion.
“I want to believe that the community is overtaken by the African spirit, I mean the tradition of the people. When there is clearly a departure from the Bible and maybe western influence, people tend towards their native custom and ways of doing things.
“And it is African for men to be polygamous before the advent of western civilization that also came with Christianity.
“So, Christianity began to re-orientate men, communities and tradition of the African people. Now communities are beginning to perhaps jettison that tradition of the western culture and Christianity and fall back to their native custom.
“I know the issue here is why do they perform the marriage rites for the brides at the same time. Well it is only coincidence. A man that wants to take two wives could take two wives at the same time or one after the other.
“But the issue is, the man is polygamous, and perhaps, he wants to give legitimacy to both women and to deal with the issue of jealousy.
“About 70% of men are polygamous. You could have a wife at home and have side chicks, concubines or mistresses at the same time. Some single men could have up to two or three side chicks.
“If they tend towards that African tradition or that mentality, they could decide to say okay let me take the two of them at the same time, after all I am also befriending the two of them,” Sorokwu said.
He noted that those with more than one wife were not christians, but are mere church goers who might even be looking for extra ladies in the church.
“A Christian is a disciple of Christ, a follower of the dictates of the word of God, the principles of the Bible. That somebody goes to church does not make the person a Christian, after all Satan goes to church.
“The issue of being a Christian is not just in professing it, it is also in conduct. It is fashionable to go to church to be called a Christian but are you truly a Christian when all you do is traditional? You are a traditionalist. It is possible that what takes you to church is to even get a woman from the church,” he stated.
According to Sorokwu, King Solomon who is the reference point for Uloho and Akpove, was not a Christian, adding that nobody in the old testament was a Christian, but were Jewish traditionalists
“And the Jewish tradition does not forbid taking two wives provided you can conveniently take care of them.
“Christianity is different from the Jewish tradition. So, Solomon, David were accustomed to the Jewish tradition. The Bible clearly defines old testament from the new testament. The new testament is convenated by Christ where Christianity takes it root,” he submitted.
A female evangelist, Florence Nwabuonwu, aligned with Sorokwu, as she insisted that Christianity does not permit polygamy.
“I don’t understand what they are talking about, and I believe they are not christians. If you are a Christian, you act according to the word of God.
“Where is it written in the word of God that a man can marry two wives the same day or even marry two wives at all? It is not what our father in heaven instructed us to do. It is not what the Bible tells us.
“You know how life is and how human beings are. Whatever we do, we try to give reasons for our actions. When Christ came, what was his injunction?
“In the time of Solomon, we were not called Christians. We became Christians after Christ came, in the days of the apostles. In the time of the apostles, which Christian married two wives?
“The old testament men did what they did then because that was not the era of Christ. Now we are in the new covenant of the blood when we are called Christians. If you are called a Christian, you act like one for God’s sake.
“The action is highly condemnable in Christianity. If it is what God wants us to do, our template is the Bible. The Bible is our blueprint for living,” she said.