South Africa and Central Asia dispute “polyandry”

  Some people say that marriage is a “besieged city”, but it is difficult for the world to say how many kinds of “marriage city” look like.
  It is easy to dispute between groups with different views on marriage. At the end of April this year, the South African Ministry of Family Affairs publicly released the “Marriage Green Paper.” This report compiled the legislative opinions of various ethnic, gender, and religious communities on the marriage system, and tried to treat all genders and communities more equally in the law.
  However, the biggest controversy comes from the various ethnic groups in South Africa, such as Zulu, Xhosa, San and Islamic believers, because they traditionally allow polygamy to exist. Polygamous families are particularly common in the Zulu and Swazi areas in eastern South Africa. The former President Zuma, who was born in Zulu, is an example.
  Many gender equality advocates oppose polygamy, but this has been resisted by traditional communities. If polygamy must be preserved in accordance with tradition, women should also be polygamous. This proposal became the most controversial focus of the entire report, and it was controversial in the South African media.
  Many conservatives believe that polyandry is “violating African traditions” and “undermining social morality.” There are also many people who support gender equality and are angry. Of course, the atmosphere of the debate is sometimes humorous. The well-known internet celebrity Matthew Ba jumped out and said that he would marry two husbands. Fans underneath also said that he would marry four or five. Some bloggers also expressed doubts: “The man is in trouble, who wants to marry so many?”
  Some people have launched a “map gun” targeting ethnic groups, saying that Zulu men in South Africa are the most conservative and are certainly the least accepting of polyandry; some people ridicule the Xhosa’s gender attitude as the most open, and there are no obstacles; others Cite that ethnic groups in other parts of Africa also have polyandry, “violating African traditions” do not know which Africa is “violating”?

In March 2021, the Zulu King Zwelithini of South Africa passed away and three of his six wives attended his funeral

  / When the mother goes out hunting, the Akha father takes care of the baby at any time, and even lets the baby suck his own nipples. /
Changes in the marriage system

  Monogamy is usually regarded as the direction of modernization and progress, while polygamy is mostly despised as a backward system that will be eliminated by the times. However, old customs are often tenacious, and officials may not be able to successfully ban them. With the revival of traditionalism, things have become more complicated.
  In Central Asia far away from Africa, such as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, there have also been public opinion disputes between polygamy and polyandry.
  In the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan banned polygamy, but it was formally decriminalized after the criminal law was revised in 1998. There is more and more lace news about rich people living in polygamy. According to surveys over the years, most women do not agree with polygamy, but more and more men agree. When the government tried to further legalize polygamy in 2008, Hiz Dikova, a female parliamentarian who promoted gender equality, proposed that polyandry should be legalized at the same time, and later successfully blocked the passage of the polygamy bill.
  It is easy to think that the marriage system of many ethnic groups is a long-standing folk custom and will not change at will, but in fact, gender relations are constantly changing in the history of politics and economy. For example, I mentioned earlier that the Xhosa people’s gender outlook is relatively open, and the Zulu people are relatively conservative. Although this contains stereotypes, it can still be traced back to the history of the ethnic group.
  After the outbreak of rinderpest in the mid-nineteenth century, the Xhosa people killed a large number of cattle, and became white hired laborers in large numbers while losing their livelihoods. This accident caused the Xhosa people to enter modern life earlier. Later, a large proportion of anti-apartheid movement leaders (such as Mandela) were Xhosa, and their gender concepts were relatively more open. In contrast, under the leadership of King Shaka in the 19th century, the Zulu people became more respectful of the wealth and military power of the patriarchal system. The Zulu King who passed away in March this year had 6 wives and 28 children.

  /Powerful Igbo women can often marry other women or men as wives, and they become “husbands”. /

  Kazakhstan’s “restoration of polygamy” originated from the new wealthy class created after the capitalist economy re-entered Central Asia and the renewed Islamic faith at the same time. As for the polygamy in Islam, it can be traced back to the custom of Arab nomads before the advent of Islam. This is the same as the polygamy of the Zulu tribe, and has a certain relationship with the frequent wars between tribes.
  All marriage systems may have some origins based on the rationality of reality. For example, polygamy in the “Women’s Chapter” of the “Quran” is to protect widows and orphans after war, while India’s notorious bride dowry is to help daughters have more weight in the husband’s house. However, many contemporary men in Kazakhstan just want to legalize their junior three, while many Indian women are tortured or killed by their husbands because of insufficient dowries.

An Igbo couple
Gender roles in marriage

  The “siege” of marriage is not just “people outside want to go in, people inside want to come out”, but in a society where various marriage modes coexist, people may have to explore “Which city do I want to enter”?
  For example, if a Zulu man wants to marry a woman of another ethnic group, the man’s family may pick up on the woman and require the woman to live according to Zulu customs. Is the woman still willing to cooperate? Is the man willing to be brave to part with family traditions? Or do the two live according to modern monogamy? With so many choices, why must we follow the Zulu tradition?
  -A tradition or custom will be measured differently in different communities. Although Zulu men think that they may be masculine in their community, in the traditional Xhosa custom, only men who have undergone circumcision are “real men.” Then Zulu men who have not been circumcised may still be Xhosa’s in-laws laughed secretly.
  When it comes to the gender roles of masculinity and femininity, Africa actually has many rich examples. Perhaps the most special one is the Akha ethnic group in the Congo region. The Akha people are generally called Pygmies. They are short in stature living in the jungle, but the Akha men are called “the best fathers in the world” by researchers. They do all the housework such as childcare and cooking that all women do. When the mother goes out hunting, the Akha father takes care of the baby at any time, and even lets the baby suck his nipples.

  For the Akha people, leaving young children alone is not allowed, so fathers and mothers always take turns at any time. According to statistics, Akha fathers spend almost half of their time with their babies, and mothers often hunt even when they are pregnant, or carry babies on their backs to hunt. This level of gender equality can be said to be less than even the Nordic countries that pride themselves on gender equality.
  But in addition to the very special case of the Akha ethnic group, in the traditional society of sub-Saharan Africa, women of many ethnicities also often hold important powers in the community. For example, women of the Xhosa ethnic group usually undertake most of the economic production tasks; the same is true for the Yoruba and Igbo ethnic groups in Nigeria. Among them, the Igbo ethnic group living in the Ennobi region is especially famous for its special kinship system. .

An Akha father with his children

  The Igbo people in Ennobi originally belonged to a matrilineal society, and even after being invaded by foreign patrilineal groups, women still played a powerful role in the society.
  In their language, “paternalist” is gender-neutral, and women can become “paternalist”; “wife” is also a neutral term, so powerful Igbo women can often marry other women or men as wives. And he becomes the “husband” role. In other words, anyone with a certain amount of wealth and power can become a “husband”, the leader of the family and the community, whether it is a physical male or a physical female.
Fight for harmony

  For many Igbo women, Westernization does not represent any liberating force, because the British colonists instead wanted them to succumb to a more repressive gender outlook, preventing them from participating in political and economic affairs. This caused an all-out protest by local women in 1929, known as the “Women’s War” in history.
  Of course, there are still patriarchal oppressions in the Igbo society. The male patrons with many wives are still in a dominant position, and even female relatives will become accomplices. However, the struggle for rights and interests continues to occur every moment. Some wives have accumulated a lot of wealth by marrying their own wives, which is enough to challenge the status of male patrons. They may also oppress their wives, but these wives will also fight.
  What people want in marriage is support and cooperation, but in order not to be exploited in a cooperative relationship, they must protect their own interests. This is the same in any cultural marriage. Sometimes the means used to protect the bride, such as the dowry, can also become a reason for ruining the bride. Indian researchers found that after legislation prohibits dowry, husbands often use other methods to oppress the bride, and the effect of the ban itself is insufficient.
  All people in marriage and love face social pressure, and European and American African women who do not want to suffer “maternal punishment” have contributed to the developed surrogacy market in Nigeria; and feminine men must learn to play Zulu warfare in the face of masculine competition. The macho in the dance. The “siege” in a distant and different culture is often just as difficult.