The African Search for Identity

June 19, 2015

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has accused the West of double standards for criminalizing polygamy whilst approving of homosexuality. “In the West they criminalise polygamy by law, while in Africa it is, and has always been, part of our way of life. Yet we do not complain. When we legislate [against] homosexuality, in response to the western sponsored non-governmental organisations vis-a-vis traditional values, we are threatened with sanctions. This is contempt,” Mr Museveni said at the Pan-African Parliament 10-year anniversary celebrations in South Africa.

According to an article published on the Web magazine, Mail & Guardian Africa, African Truth, by Christine Mungai, the following pieces is taken which is read as follows.  Usually, debate around polygamy is fierce in Africa—there are those who argue that men are polygamous “by nature”; Senegalese-American musician Akon is one of the staunch defenders of polygamy, saying that he can have as many wives as he “can afford to have”; at the latest count, he had five. South African president Jacob Zuma is another stalwart of the League of African Polygamists; Zuma’s four wives and their domestic intrigues make tabloid fodder—a fortnight ago, tempers flared when two of Zuma’s wives showed up at a television studio for the same interview.

In all the countries surveyed, more men said they had one wife than women who said they had no co-wives—suggesting that women suspect, or know, that the men have other wives somewhere, but the men won’t admit it. We call this the “polygamy hypocrisy gap” ; and the biggest gap among the countries surveyed is Swaziland, where the divergence was nearly 30 percentage points—94.1% of married Swazi men say they are monogamous, but just 66% of married women say they are not sharing their husbands, suggesting that nearly three in ten married Swazi men are “secretly polygamous”.

Similarly big gaps are found in many West African countries, such as Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Nigeria. Guinea and Burkina Faso are interesting because they already have many admittedly polygamous men, so you might expect that there is no need to be secretive about having a second wife—but men still are.

The narrowest gap is found in the Great Lakes region: Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, followed by Ethiopia, Madagascar and Malawi. In these countries, men tend to be “honestly monogamous” with the number of men saying they have one wife, and women agreeing that they are not sharing their husbands being nearly equal.

For example, Abumbi II, the 11th fon, or king, of Bafut, Cameroon, has close to 100 wives. They weren’t all his to start. According to local tradition, when a fon dies, his successor inherits all his wives and then marries his own queens.

What is African religious identity, is it Christianity, Islam, or African Indigenous Culture in which all of them have their own features and aspects of thinking and belief which cannot be integrate as one since they have their own distinct nature and character.

The majority of Africans are adherents of Christianity or Islam. African people often combine the practice of their traditional belief with the practice of Abrahamic religions, which are widespread throughout Africa. They have both spread and replaced indigenous African religions, but are often adapted to African cultural contexts and belief systems. The World Book Encyclopedia has estimated that in 2002 Christians formed 40% of the continent’s population, with Muslims forming 45%.

Is this percentage vary from the point of Africans polygamy practice or the promulgation and propagation methods by both religions or due to receptivity reasons, in which such given data is an indication of certain objective fact on what is going on the daily activities of the continent as well.

The Pew Research Center released its “Global Christianity” , the report is widely considered as the most “comprehensive and reliable” study to date, as it gathered its information from 2,400 sources of information.

According to the report, the world’s Christian population has tripled in the past 100 years, seeing a momentous shift in region. While in 1910 the majority of Christians at 93 percent resided in Europe and the Americas, there now exists an increasingly large population in sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. While in 1910 sub-Saharan Africa only contained 1.4 percent of the world’s Christians, in 2010 it contained 23.6 percent of Christians. The Asia-pacific region also exhibited momentous growth; in 1910 it only had 4.5 percent of Christians, in 2010 the percentage rose to 13.1 percent.

Nigeria holds the largest amount of Christians in Africa at more than 80.5 million. According to the Pew Research report, this proves ironic because Nigeria now houses a higher protestant population than Germany, which was the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century. Africa has also seen the fastest growth in Christian population from 1910 to 2010 with a 60-fold increase.

In the light of such given way of life, what is African identity, is it African cultural heritage—polygamy, in most cases—or Christianity or Islam which are imported from foreign thinking and mentality. People should figure out at first their root before they claim who they are or they hold certain given identity. In this case, it has become a reality that changing certain given religious identity is considered as changing one’s own nationality since both imaginative ideologies govern the natural identity of people and thought is overriding nature.

Thought is major force that drive humanity’s destiny. In such world, such people should give time and contemplate before they design their future otherwise such given identity could be tantamount to an oil and water identity in which both can live but both cannot be integrated and combined as the way it is now.


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