13 May, 2008

What I’m reading:

Kenya’s Secret Wives:

A new trend has developed in Kenya – men taking (either openly or behind closed doors) a second wife. The stats are startling: “A quarter of Kenyan men are either openly polygamous or have a secret wife, 16% have a child their spouse knows nothing about. And 45% say having more than one wife is a great idea”

This is having effects on families, "First, losing a husband is very painful. It hurts even more because the trust she had for him is shattered. The feeling that he had been cheating on you over the years is traumatising and this makes the healing process slower. This is why the society should fight this trend more vigorously,") economically as both sides battle it out in court for rights to the land – socially as the women who had a bread-winner in secret now have nothing.

What is the cause of this trend? The article summarizes it nicely: “Experts say that there are a lot of factors that give rise to this trend, ranging from unhappiness at home, clash between Christianity and centuries-old cultural practices and infidelity. While most communities in Kenya have always practised polygamy, it is outlawed by Christianity and this partly explains why men who decide to take a second wife do it in secret, for fear of being excommunicated, especially if they married the first wife in church.”

But that’s not the core – look at the practice itself – not the culture:

"It is a result of inequality between men and women where a man feels that he needs to eat more and mate more because he is the hunter and gatherer. He is entitled to more and top-ups. But they are mainly hidden because it is ultra vires (not allowed by law)," the Rev Dr Njoya said. "All polygamy is flawed masculinity where men think that women are less human and that one woman cannot be enough," he said. "You will even see a man with two women killing one of them for flirting with another man."

On the same path (though not planned)

Published in 1920 – his words ring true today. Essentially society has fallen into this lie that divorce is something to be taken lightly. “The advocates of divorce believe that a vow can be undone by a mere ceremony, disposed of by a mysterious and magical rite. The superstition also applies to the idea of re-marriage, that the mere ceremony will undo a vow so that the vow can be made vow again.” But at the core of divorce is the breakdown of family. And, Chesterton argues, “If the family breaks apart, the whole society will break apart.”

Some key quotes for me:

  1. "The obvious effect of frivolous divorce will be frivolous marriage. If people can be separated for no reason they will feel it all the easier to be united for no reason."

  2. “Divorce, by any account, is a failure. But the modern world has begun to portray divorce as a freedom. … we [must] admit that divorce is a failure and that it would be much better for us to find the cause and cure rather than allow divorce to complete its destructive effect.”

  3. “Divorce is not an act of freedom. On the contrary, it is an act of slavery. A society where vows can be easily broken is not a free society. A free society cannot function without volunteers keeping their commitments to each other. When the most basic unit of society, the family, breaks apart, some other institution will try to replace it and restore order, and will then become more important than the family.”

So I would say that the institution of “family” has broken down in our society – and what has come in to replace it? Fame and success? Or this culture of sex – that allows us to enjoy the physical “benefits” of marriage without the messy emotional trial and ultimate commitment?

Interesting article, well worth the gaze over.

Megan McArdle works for The Atlantic. I have a deep love/hate relationship with her. I appreciate some (and getting to be less) of what she says – though most times it is accompanied by a big dose of intelligent ignorance. But she is quoted and well-revered in most of the blogs I read – so maybe I’m just missing something.

Case in point

I agree with her assessment of the world’s reaction to disaster’s in third world countries – though I disagree that American’s “care about people…outside the American borders.” And that giving is a way of soothing some part of us that feels we should care.

And I can appreciate the first comment from her blog. Someone else catches McArdle’s flippancy, yes!!

(for an interesting article on why disaster’s are worse in developing countries read this. (no it’s not entirelybecause of climate…))

Finally beatboxers perform in London – it’s amazing!

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© Amanda Lunday