1 Husband, 3 Wives and 19 Children

1 min read

Barika Rinonaka explores the life of one man, his three wives and their their nineteen children. Take a glimpse into the life of a polygamous family from Mbengo Village in Chipinge, Zimbabwe.

Polygamy in Zimbabwe

In traditional Shona society, a man could have as many wives as possible, provided he could afford to take care of the needs of the family. Commonly known as “muchato wekwamudzviti” because District Administrators (mudzviti) preside over ceremonies, polygamous marriages are legal in Zimbabwe; unions are prohibited under Zimbabwean civil law but permitted under customary law.

Polygamous marriages are a part of the social fabric because customary law unions contracted by the majority of black Zimbabweans allow men to marry more than one wife. Under Zimbabwean civil law, the Marriage Act of Zimbabwe only recognises monogamous marriages. However, the majority of marriages in Zimbabwe are customary; the relevant African Marriages Act of Zimbabwe recognises both polygamous and “potentially polygamous” unions.


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