Why are we fussing about the polyandry debate? It's a non-issue

We're at the height of worrying about all the wrong things

23 May 2021 - 00:02
By AND Ndumiso Ngcobo
Image: Aardwolf

In my former life as a research & development technologist I worked with a notorious raconteur from Lamontville, Durban, called Lefty Mshengu.

He once told me a story about two fictional factory operators, Msomi and Mbeje. Msomi was a voracious reader who bought three daily newspapers on his way to work. And he loved ribbing Mbeje about his ignorance of current affairs.

Every day at tea time Msomi would sit there with his Daily News and ask his mate, "Mbeje, do you know about the Gulf War?" Mbeje would shrug. "Mbeje, do you know anything about Saddam Hussein?" Mbeje would shake his head.

And then one day, after a barrage of questions, Mbeje turned to Msomi; "Nomndayi, do you know anything about Sibeko?" With furrowed brow, Msomi had to begrudgingly admit that he did not know of this famous Sibeko, "What does he do? Is he a politician or industrialist?" Mbeje shook his head nonchalantly. He bit into his Russian sausage and muttered, "You know everything about Saddam Hussein and Bush but you don't know Sibeko from the warehouse who sleeps in your bed every time you work night shift."

I was thinking about this story during the feeding frenzy after reports that parliament was mooting a law to force every woman in the country to take more than husband. Well, judging from the hysteria, I was certain that this is what was being suggested.

I call this furore about this non-issue the height of worrying about all the wrong things, just like Msomi obsessing over Saddam while Sibeko populates his household with his genes. And this is without a piece of paper authorising Mrs Msomi to potentially introduce more variety into the family gene pool.

I honestly do not get the fuss. Long before we Homo sapiens crawled out of our caves there was a healthy cross-pollination of genes. I bet that somewhere in the general Sterkfontein area, around 8,000 BC, some fellow called Xa-a-tin sacrificed a springbok to thank the gods for the miracle of his middle son who was born with six fingers despite the fact that the only other man in the cave estate with six fingers was !Kwabba-an who was known to help Xa-a-tin's wife draw water from the river every Tuesday.

Worrying about polyandry and the paternity of children is like worrying about a light drizzle while you're in the swimming pool

Humans didn't even know about the passing on of genes from parent to offspring until that monk, Gregor Mendel, messed up our world about 150 years ago.

This is why Emperor Shaka's grampa, Jama kaNdaba, named one of his "sons" Sojiyisa (the one who was fortified) because the young man's mother was already pregnant when he married her. He believed that he added his royal seed into his blood. I'm with Jama kaNdaba on this one. All my children are mine because I'm their father and I raised them. I have no interest in DNA tests because what am I supposed to do with that information should I find out that Sibeko breached my house's walls?

Besides, depending on whose research you believe, cases of misattributed paternity vary from 15% to 25% across the world. Worrying about polyandry and the paternity of children is like worrying about a light drizzle while you're in the swimming pool.

Only a couple of years ago, before he was thrown into the state capture commission to listen to pathological liars fabricate "facts", deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo read out a ConCourt judgment that declared adults could roll up a blunt of Mary-Jane in their personal spaces.

I haven't seen the stats but I doubt Tannie Quanita from Elsie's River who had never smoked marijuana in all her 86 years, upon hearing the good news, handed her grandson Jerome R50 to get her some of that "good Swazi" from the street corner.

Changes to the Marriage Act will free up women who want to take more than one husband to do so. All the rest of us can do is not get multiple husbands if we don't agree.

Before I'm accused of the crime of being too "liberal", I got a fright this week when I found a leather jacket on my wife's side of the bed. I thought, "Oh God, it has started!" I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I realised that it was a female jacket, probably belonging to her sister.

The relief lasted only two seconds before it gave way to, "Hang on, who says that a husband has to be a man?"