Technically, there is a difference between polygamy and polygny. Polygny is the condition or practice of having more than one wife at one time; while polygamy (plural marriage) is a situation whereby a spouse of either sex may have more than one mate at the same time. Somehow, we tend to associate polygamy with just “multiple wives.” Definitions aside, most African men likes and enjoy the idea of multiple wives. However, in the last 25 or so years, fewer men engage in such practices even when they engage in licentious sex with multiple partners. Such men simply don’t want to be bothered with multiple social, cultural and financial responsibilities. It is less stressful having a mistress or a concubine instead of a second or third wife.
Increasingly too, women are now open to the idea of polygandry or polyamory — the condition or practice of having more than one husband or lover at any given time — even if such conditions are not officialized. The world does not belong to men alone, and so women are also now getting into the practice of “what’s good for you is also good for me.” Although a few of my friends have argued that African women, especially Nigerian women, have been in the know and have been having multiple lovers for a very long time. These friends of mine called my attention to market women in Lagos and other Nigerian metropolis and asserted that some of these women freely have sexual partners, with or without the knowledge or consent of their husbands.
However, my friends argued that sexual promiscuity, informal polyandry and polyamory are more prevalent and acceptable among some groups than others. No group, I am told, totally frowns upon and completely rejects and forbid such practices. In other words: how loud sexual orgies and parties are depends on the sense of self of the ethnic groups, their mythology and worldview. Besides, a man or woman would engage in infidelity if there is an assurance of secrecy, safety and or long-term benefit irrespective of religion, ethics or morality.
But how different are things on this side of the continent? Is it any different dating and or marrying a White woman or the African-Americans? In popular parlance, the assumption is that White women are easy to talk to, easy to date, easy to have any sort of relationship with. And that in all matter sex, they don’t have as many hang-ups as African women; and so there is no high premium attached to sex. If it is going to happen it is going to happen. Sexual pretensions are therefore easily allayed.
It is also assumed that African-American women have a ritual about sex. Like African women, they don’t easily give in to sex. There has to be a reason. There are dramas attached to sex. A Rubicon to cross. A wall to climb. An ocean to swim. A mountain to climb. But once all the ceremonies are taken care of, sex becomes them; and they become sex. Whether these assumptions are correct or not is not for me to say. I don’t know. I simply don’t know. I have been here and there and everywhere in between. I have done this and done that and prowled every V-square in between — I simply have not taken the time to engage in a systemic study of their sexual habits.
Recently, when a close friend of mine tried to settle down with someone he truly loved and cared for — someone in whom he had complete trust and faith — she asked him: “as we move forward with this relationship, what are your expectations: infidelity or polygamy on both sides?”
He was staggered by her question. He was speechless for a minute or more until she came to his rescue by seductively muttering “Honey, I am only 25…you didn’t expect me to not experiment, did you?”
What a choice! What a choice!! I now think and look at her differently. And I hate it every time she looks at me with those decadent and catching eyes…ha, women!