Until colonization and the introduction of Christianity by white missionaries in Africa, polygamy, the custom of marrying more than one spouse, was prevalent and culturally accepted by a majority of the tribes in the continent.
There are two kinds of polygamy: polygyny and polyandry. The latter is the least popular custom which is when one woman marries more than one man. This was practiced in the Lake Region of Central Africa and among some Maasai people in Kenya.
However, polygyny – which is when a man marries more than one wife – is the widely accepted practice in Africa, yet abhorred by the New Testament of the Bible which was preached by the colonialists.
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Christianity is the only major religion in Africa today, besides Islam and traditional African religions, that has rejected polygamy. According to the World Book Encyclopedia, Christians represent about 45% of the continent’s population.
This explains why 21st century Africa sees everything wrong with the age-old custom that has contributed to the creation of large families, and traditionally curbed the problem of single motherhood.
Here are some popular polygamist African leaders and heads of state.