Zürcher Nachrichten - Tied in knots? Polygamy persists in DR Congo despite ban

EUR -
AED 4.001562
AFN 76.943849
ALL 100.305017
AMD 422.317248
ANG 1.961698
AOA 950.687425
ARS 1006.673081
AUD 1.63176
AWG 1.961
AZN 1.854316
BAM 1.95588
BBD 2.19771
BDT 127.993915
BGN 1.957378
BHD 0.410317
BIF 3134.884157
BMD 1.089444
BND 1.464173
BOB 7.521307
BRL 6.039595
BSD 1.088454
BTN 91.062119
BWP 14.739737
BYN 3.562178
BYR 21353.112089
BZD 2.19401
CAD 1.495192
CDF 3083.127736
CHF 0.96819
CLF 0.037203
CLP 1026.539609
CNY 7.92211
CNH 7.941125
COP 4410.583352
CRC 571.123325
CUC 1.089444
CUP 28.870279
CVE 110.269504
CZK 25.229365
DJF 193.799694
DKK 7.461687
DOP 64.442632
DZD 146.516329
EGP 52.521035
ERN 16.341667
ETB 62.396748
FJD 2.43567
FKP 0.839483
GBP 0.842952
GEL 2.957771
GGP 0.839483
GHS 16.794686
GIP 0.839483
GMD 73.876425
GNF 9368.952652
GTQ 8.457345
GYD 227.7193
HKD 8.505985
HNL 26.958101
HRK 7.525829
HTG 143.677187
HUF 390.396938
IDR 17663.926198
ILS 3.968127
IMP 0.839483
INR 91.156654
IQD 1425.858234
IRR 45857.443114
ISK 149.744297
JEP 0.839483
JMD 170.098508
JOD 0.772092
JPY 171.61583
KES 139.863149
KGS 92.213526
KHR 4472.223702
KMF 493.246552
KPW 980.500426
KRW 1512.982362
KWD 0.333174
KYD 0.907045
KZT 518.58594
LAK 24136.985786
LBP 97473.375645
LKR 330.463497
LRD 212.420625
LSL 19.964999
LTL 3.216846
LVL 0.658994
LYD 5.249263
MAD 10.725138
MDL 19.265964
MGA 4903.245262
MKD 61.617517
MMK 3538.473221
MNT 3758.583882
MOP 8.754958
MRU 42.950754
MUR 50.844594
MVR 16.723146
MWK 1887.394408
MXN 19.626561
MYR 5.101321
MZN 69.615493
NAD 19.964999
NGN 1770.717264
NIO 40.059798
NOK 11.886496
NPR 145.698951
NZD 1.81438
OMR 0.418951
PAB 1.088444
PEN 4.075748
PGK 4.263213
PHP 63.629551
PKR 302.706141
PLN 4.290232
PYG 8230.411687
QAR 3.972562
RON 4.971353
RSD 117.054843
RUB 95.717967
RWF 1426.171337
SAR 4.086395
SBD 9.214091
SCR 15.374279
SDG 638.414245
SEK 11.617967
SGD 1.465052
SHP 0.839483
SLE 24.890868
SLL 22845.110316
SOS 622.031114
SRD 32.365225
STD 22549.301453
SVC 9.524476
SYP 2737.262378
SZL 19.968999
THB 39.557299
TJS 11.575873
TMT 3.82395
TND 3.374438
TOP 2.574468
TRY 36.047561
TTD 7.392336
TWD 35.800569
TZS 2924.774948
UAH 45.162359
UGX 4022.16427
USD 1.089444
UYU 43.861791
UZS 13715.497211
VEF 3946569.914016
VES 40.651179
VND 27601.076264
VUV 129.34107
WST 3.054376
XAF 655.989813
XAG 0.037303
XAU 0.000452
XCD 2.944278
XDR 0.821041
XOF 655.989813
XPF 119.331742
YER 272.742197
ZAR 19.864729
ZMK 9806.322524
ZMW 27.78339
ZWL 350.800683
  • RBGPF

    56.4600

    56.46

    +100%

  • NGG

    0.8400

    61.79

    +1.36%

  • RELX

    -0.0700

    45.01

    -0.16%

  • VOD

    -0.0500

    9.04

    -0.55%

  • BP

    -0.2100

    35.38

    -0.59%

  • RIO

    -0.5900

    63.78

    -0.93%

  • BTI

    0.1600

    33.2

    +0.48%

  • GSK

    -0.0100

    39.35

    -0.03%

  • BCC

    -1.2600

    130.84

    -0.96%

  • AZN

    0.6500

    78.71

    +0.83%

  • RYCEF

    -0.0250

    5.785

    -0.43%

  • BCE

    -0.1200

    33.21

    -0.36%

  • CMSC

    0.0160

    24.31

    +0.07%

  • SCS

    -0.1600

    13.54

    -1.18%

  • JRI

    0.1400

    12.42

    +1.13%

  • CMSD

    -0.0200

    24.45

    -0.08%

Tied in knots? Polygamy persists in DR Congo despite ban
Tied in knots? Polygamy persists in DR Congo despite ban

Tied in knots? Polygamy persists in DR Congo despite ban

"I can get married again -- the dream is to get to seven wives," said Congolese church pastor Chirhuza Zagabe, a husband to four spouses and father of 16 children.

Text size:

In 2012, the 60-year-old married three women simultaneously in his church in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. He repudiated one for "bad behaviour", but now has four aged between 26 and 48 through other marriages.

Zagabe's situation shows that polygamy persists in the vast central African country, where advocates strongly back the practice of being married to more than one person despite it having been officially outlawed for more than three decades.

Around two percent of the world's population live in polygamous households, according to the American think tank, Pew Research Center.

The practice is most widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, where an estimated 11 percent of the population live in polygamous households.

The proportion in DR Congo is two percent. Examples abound of Congolese men boasting about having a "second office" that everyone is aware of -- even their first spouse.

When a video purporting to show a man marrying three women at the same time was posted on YouTube last month, the video went viral on social media.

It told the story of a young Congolese man who supposedly fell in love with a woman who had two look-alikes that were so convincing he ended up marrying all three.

It was false -- but viewers apparently believed the story.

Some comments pitied the alleged groom. "He's going to suffer", wrote one reviewer. "We will have seen it all," said another, while an admirer remarked: "The lad is strong."

A cinema director from the eastern city of Goma revealed he was behind the film, which he says was based on a true story and used actors to raise the issue of polygamy.

- Traditional culture -

Every Sunday, Zagabe explains and praises the merits of polygamy in the Lord's Primitive Church, which was established in 1983 and is one of DR Congo's many religious sects.

A few dozen of his flock eagerly listen to his preaching in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu province, with women on one side of the central aisle and men on the other.

Zagabe's sermon claims humanity's story started with one male and several females. "Instead of living in adultery and debauchery, God authorised man to have several wives," he told AFP.

Three of the pastor's wives live with him in Bukavu and the fourth in Bujumbura in neighbouring Burundi.

But other Christians challenge Zagabe's interpretation of polygamy's divinely ordained roots.

"Polygamy is a human institution that goes far back in our traditional African and Congolese culture. It's not a divine institution," said Raymond Kongolo, a Catholic priest in Bukavu.

DR Congo's constitution and family code have clearly stated since 1987 that polygamy is an offence, according to Joseph Yav, a lawyer and law professor in the southern city of Lubumbashi.

"Marriage in DR Congo is monogamous," he stressed. But polygamy "is present and practised in Congolese traditions, notwithstanding the formal legal ban".

- 'Blessed by God' -

Among Zagabe's congregation was Kalungu Kalebe, who has two wives and eight children. Rather than transgressing the law, the 40-year-old believes he is "blessed by God".

"I must follow David, Abraham and Solomon, who married several wives," he said, referring to Biblical prophets.

Fellow parishioner Nathanaelle, 15, said she was "ready" to wed a man with other wives. "That doesn't bother me at all," she added.

Rakel, one of Zagabe's wives, sees the children of his other spouses as her own, in addition to the three offspring she has borne him.

Another of Zagabe's wives, Yaelle, said she lives in harmony with his other spouses. But she noticed that neighbours who used to visit her when she was the only wife in the household have since stopped coming. "They fled from us," Yaelle said.

"This polygamy business is a deviation in our society, it's unthinkable!" said Nicolas Lubala, a 42-year-old Catholic who accuses the Kinshasa-headquartered Primitive Church of "contributing to moral depravation".

Mathilde, 23, was clear that marrying a bigamous man was "impossible". "In polygamy, there are too many problems, discord between the wives, the children," she said.

But "if the man has money and other wives, getting attached to him isn't troubling".

Ch.Siegenthaler--NZN