An age-old tradition still festers within many countries, polygamy, the practice of having more than one wife at the same time. Although little is known about the issue in the UK and the West in General, ask the average man on the street and the response is inevitably one of amusement relying heavily on sexual stereotypes - how would a man cope with all that nagging? Isn’t one enough to contend with? And how would he get anything done with all those conjugal rights to attend to?
However, the story of Nigerian-born Taiwo and Kehinde Onalaja, a.k.a the TK Brothers, highlights the darker reality of the situation. Born into a polygamous household themselves and surrounded by polygamous neighbours, they not only suffered psychologically and emotionally as a result of their upbringing but were moved to take a stand against the practice. Having campaigned successfully for 5 years, we now see the launch of their first book “How Polygamy Wrecks Nigeria, Africa and second book Polygamists’ Wives” and a new website www.tk-one.com and www.polygamystop.org . Taking courage from their growing numbers of supporters from around the globe, the twin brothers are steadfast in their belief that the culture oppresses women, increases the spread of HIV and STDs, ‘encourages the fast breeding of children’ thereby resulting in over population, destitution, illiteracy, and a vicious cycle of a hand-to-mouth existence.
Formerly, when men relied on cheap labour in the form of women and children to farm lands, this practice could have been seen to have certain economic benefits. Modern methods have replaced this primitive practice but a fervent following of the tradition still remains. Taiwo and Kehinde have spent a considerable amount of time researching and analysing the different societies across the world and campaigning to shift public opinion - not only within their native Nigeria but throughout Africa, Middle East and beyond. They believe that the only way to achieve speedy and total liberation of women and teenage girls in any part of the world, especially the third world, is through the complete eradication of this antiquated marital practice.
Taiwo Onalaja, who is the Chief Co-ordinator of CAPWOI, comments that polygamy is an “insidious evil that must be fought if we are to allow laudable poverty alleviation programmes such as welfare systems, agricultural loan schemes, free education and healthcare delivery to work effectively.” He goes on to add that “Polygamy is at the moment killing Nigeria, Africa and the third world and for that reason, the people of the West should not accept to legalise polygamy”. It is this conviction that drives Taiwo and his brother to keep on with their fight. Their informative books and websites provide an honest yet often chilling account of the subject and are a fascinating insight for all.
When the Onalaja brothers were asked, ‘What is their dream for the future?’ Taiwo answered, ‘At the prime of our lives, we have dedicated ourselves to the struggle of the African people. We have fought against the culture of women oppression which polygamy entails. We have cherished religiously the ideals of monogamous, free and prosperous societies across Nigeria, Africa, Middle East, nay the third world, where women enjoy gender equality with men. It is an ideal, which we hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be it is an ideal for which we are prepared to fight for, the rest of our lives.’
International Woman Magazine, U.S.A.
August, 2001 Edition
ODE TO WOMEN
“Weep not the girl child,
Weep not mothers of the world.
With this campaign against polygamy,
purdah and all forms of women oppression
in Africa and worldwide,
let CAPWOI remove your tears,
the ravening cloud of women oppression and sexual segregation,
which polygamy represents, shall no long be victorious.
Polygamy shall no long rob you of your fundamental human rights and natural freedoms,
to be truly loved, respected and cherished by the male gender.
God bless CAPWOI, God bless mothers of the world.”
... Campaign Against Polygamy and Women Oppression International
Campaign For The Abolition of Polygamy Worldwide