May 12, 2011

Nigerian with 107 wives

About once every decade or two, the LA Times runs an article on some old guy in Africa with 100+ wives. I remember reading about a Kenyan in 1981, and another one in 1999. They're worth waiting for. In today's LA Times:
Always groom for one more
An Islamic faith healer in Nigeria has married 107 women. The wives seem happy, but religious authorities are not amused.
By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times 
Reporting from Bida, Nigeria 
He fell in love with his first wife because she was sincere and eager to please. His second wife, a cousin, was irresistible because she did everything he wished and nothing he didn't. "That alone made me love her." His third wife won him because she submitted to his every request. "I saw her, I liked her. I went to her parents and asked for her hand in marriage." 
Wife No. 4 was very obedient. So was wife No. 5. Wife No. 6, the same. As were wives 7 and 8 and 9 and … 
Well, by then — it was the late 1980s — things had taken off for Bello Maasaba, an Islamic faith healer in this city in Niger state. He went from a wedding every few months to one every few weeks. 
All told, the 87-year-old has married 107 women, which, even in a society with a tradition of polygamy, is on the high side. 
Three years ago, Islamic authorities in Niger, a majority Muslim state with Sharia, or Islamic law, ordered that Maasaba divorce 82 of his wives, keeping four. He refused and was ordered by the Sharia court to leave town. (Muslim scholars generally agree that the Koran allows up to four wives, provided each gets equal treatment.) ....
With so many wives, how does he meet their romantic needs? 
He smiles. Everyone asks him that.  

Here's my 2002 article "The Problem with Polygamy," which was inspired by the 1981 article.

24 comments:

Lakini said...

Moreover, how does this affect a society's politics? It seems to me that one way marriage affects a man is to make him less bellicose. When half of the males in a country lack a civilizing factor at home, I wonder how that translates to their nation's overall mood?

James M. said...

Steve:

Before I read "The Problem With Polygamy" several years ago, I never gave a thought to all those guys who end up without girlfriends and wives because of the hoarding of women by a polygamous few, nor did I think about the prospects for any society littered with unattached, sexually frustrated men.

However, since then, I've analyzed the issue through the framework you presented and found it enormously useful. I don't think one can think intelligently about polygamy without understanding the simple but subtle demographic truth you wrote about. There are others who obviously feel the same. Just a few days ago, I noted that the Wikipedia article on polygamy prominently cited you and your article.

But you published that thing almost 20 years ago! It's easily found on the web and referenced in a Wikipedia article. What accounts then for this old hat presentation of the issue by this journalist? Good grief! Is there something unattractive about your analysis? Has someone refuted it? Are they afraid that if they mentioned your idea, someone will tie them to you and your other, more controversial writings?

I have long thought that establishment journalists were aware of you and your work, and that you might communicate frequently with some of them. I figure that although they might be loathe to cite you, in the interests of getting a broader picture or at least an unconventional angle on an issue that they would look you up.

So Steve, I have two possibly stupid questions for you: Are there influential media folk that you frequently exchange information with? And are there people in the establishment that will contact you off the record to get your take on things?


Thanks, Steve.

dearieme said...

Did he ever marry any sisters or did he - drumroll, please - have 107 mother-in-laws?

Anonymous said...

When half of the males in a country lack a civilizing factor at home, I wonder how that translates to their nation's overall mood?

Status post about 1990 [or maybe even 1970?] we have had de facto [if not de jure] polygamy in the USA, where the Whiskey/Roissy "alpha male" cycles through two or three [or four] wives - making a baby or two with each of them - and the betas sit at home and whack off to pr0n magazines [1970s] or to pr0n videos [1980s/1990s] or to pr0n MP3s/MP4s [1996 to present].

Kinda off-topic, but I don't think anyone has really sat down and tried to think through what pr0n could be doing to "Western" [including Pacific Rim Asian] demographics.

Pr0n is certainly sapping an enormous amount of male virility and aggressiveness out of the reality of "meatspace" - you can't be shooting your wad into a towel every night and then be expecting to have nearly as much energy left over the next day for dealing with real-life chicks and all of their ceaseless, never-ending, interminable B.S.

PS: On a similar topic, the other day, Rush Limbaugh devoted a substantial amount of airtime to a story about how the Pill is influencing women's choices of mate [although, in this instance, it seems to be the betas - i.e. the metrosexual squishes - who are winning].

none of the above said...

I suspect being wife 107 of a man in his eighties is an excellent way for a woman to get married without being expected to sleep with her husband too often.

Maya said...

I think most state universities now require an intro to anthropology course as a part of GE. I've been taught that humans are large mammals, and like most large mammals are naturally polygamous. That's the main reason why human males are much larger than human females. It's the same for lions and deer. Women were choosing that lifestyle before a culture existed that could force polygamy onto them. The explanation I was always given is that mammal females can have a limited number of offsprings and thus go for quality. The best they can give their children is good genes, so sharing a superior man is better than having a mediocre one all to oneself. Mammal males can have an infinite number of offsprings, so they accept all females, except for the significantly below average ones.
Monogamy had always been dreamed up and inforced by community minded men, across cultures.

Take my wives, please... said...

On flip side of polygamy Steve describes here is what I'll call nilgamy.

As a non-trust funded young man making my way in one of the most expensive coastal cities in the US, I was economically neutered. I couldn't afford a home in a decent neighborhood nor private school, so I put off marriage until very late.

Urban and coastal US and Europe's population decline is largely due this nilgamy arising out of economic pressures.

Massive wealth transfer programs in the West called "welfare" already have created a de facto polygamyx2 among the lower class. Where polygamy is 1 man with several wives, I'll call polygamyx2 several men with several wives.

Here are the stats for sibilings who have different fathers by the same mothers.

A recent UMich study shows 20% of all women and 28% of women with >=2 kids have them >=2 men. Twenty percent is the same percentage of college educated adults! Broken down by race:

Black 59%
Hispanic 35%
White 22%

With the growing inequalities at the top of society as well, it's only a matter of time until middle class nilgamy is also balanced with a more traditional polygamy in the upper classes as well in the West.

Already, extremely successful man can currently be a serial polygamist via divorce. But that was driven by the once admired institution of marriage and scarcity of sex with non-sluts.

With the debasement of marriage (a la roissy) and womyn's lib creating such a glut of free milk it's running down the gutters, Western society has had to continually try to extend the legal net to financially ensare middle/upper class men. Thus, common law marriage appears to have continually be redefined into shorter and shorter cohabitation periods (esp Canada).

With massive 3rd world immigration to the West and or slouching toward decadence, whose to say that polygamy won't be legal here eventually? Certainly, many immigrants are de facto polygamists in the West today.

If the UK already allows Shria law courts to ajudicate some family law matters, how long before the West formally acknowledges the legal right for groups to practice their own marriage customs?

AWoman said...

Just as I've been saying for years, women are stupid.

Not so big Love said...

Monogamy had always been dreamed up and inforced by community minded men, across cultures.

Another way of stating this is that monogamy was an evolved group trait that allowed practicing groups to outcompete polygamous groups.

Polygamous groups turn all men against the alpha male who by nature rules as a despised short lived despot. There would be tremendous insability, little trust and almost no investment in the future.

Monogamous groups give all men a stake in society in terms of wives and offspring so they will cooperate and even sacrifice themselves in ways unheard of in polygamous groups. This leads to a more productive, innovative, and successful group that can easily outcompete polygamous groups in every endeavor from war to science to economics.

Feminist complain that Western mongamous culture oppresses women. They are ignorant that being sexually liberated to pursue transient polyamourous transient big men leads to bitter spinsterhood/beta marriages in the West and outright exploitation in places like Africa.

Women do seem to be biologically evolved for short term coupling with a series of transient alphas. However, modern complex human society has harshly selected for monogamy and cooperation. Also, in an increasingly complex technological world, the definition of alpha is very different even if the brain stem lusts for the traditional alpha.

An important question is how much are Europeans/NE Asians genetically programmed to be more monogamous/cooperative due to many more generations of advanced civilization? How quickly could this distinct genetic trait be lost under modern irrational and unsustainable "welfare" wealth transfers from the productive/responsible to the unproductive/irresponsible?

Will these beneficial traits be preserved and advanced further only among the upper classes who selectively mate in the most competitive colleges and careers? Will the masses slide backwards like chavs before the welfare state collapses and the laws of nature and economics force a rebalancing?

someguy said...

Dan Kruger and U of Michigan does great work in this area in relation to male mortality rates.

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~kruger/

Anonymous said...

Extreme polygamy has been important for prominent Muslims not just obscure witch doctors.

Abdul Aziz bin Saud - the founder of Saudi Arabia had a very large harem. It was said that he built the country with a sword of iron and a sword of flesh. He serviced the girls religiously, pausing in his campaigns of conquest to spread his favors.

The result of this is that the Saudi royal family are all brothers. Succession passes from the older children to the younger. I don't believe that even yet have they needed to go to the grandsons.

Saudi Arabia is a crucial international player and they have this unique authority structure based on extreme polygamy. It's not just a funny human interest story.

Albertosaurus

Maya said...

Take My Wives Please,

If you don't want to get married and have children, that's your sacred right. Thank you for being responsible by not producing unwanted babies. However, if you do, you could move to a cheaper city that still offers plenty of culture and recreation (Salt Lake City, Nashville, Columbus, OH, Minneapolis/St Paul). You could pick a woman who actually works (teacher/nurse/accountant) and will help you build a life, rather than just benefit from what you build. There is plenty of women out there, between the ages of 20 and 30 whose number of sexual partners to date is 1-3. I think it's much more embarrassing to say that you are a virgin because you are waiting for the right man and the right circumstances nowadays than lie. Oh, and most women aren't womyn just like most men aren't roissy. The welfare state certainly does make things more difficult by flooding us with unwanted, underdeveloped violent children, but it's not the reason young men cant get married.

Charlie said...

"Maya said...
I think most state universities now require an intro to anthropology course as a part of GE. I've been taught that humans are large mammals, and like most large mammals are naturally polygamous. That's the main reason why human males are much larger than human females."

But is there any, you know, evidence for this? The phrase "naturally polygamous" is extremely vague. On Mangan's blog, I recall he quoted a study suggesting that about 40 or 50% of men, and about 70% of women have managed to reproduce throughout human history. When you consider the high child mortality rates of the past, which I think were always higher for males, it seems to me that if this is true, the "natural" outcome in human societies is that if you live to adulthood, you probably have kids.

Obviously the incentives for females to select quality males, and males to maximize fertility have affected human behaviour, but there are other incentives too, and this is not an all-or-nothing matter. I'm a bit leery of saying that humans are "naturally" any kind of -gamous because in fact, mating behaviour varies from tribe to tribe, so you're immediately reduced to claiming "this tribe behaves naturally" and "this tribe behaves unnaturally". Which is absurd, since human behaviour is "natural" by definition.

But if you can talk about "natural" human mating behaviours at all, it seems the best answer is that we are a generally monogamous mammal with considerable polygamous tendencies. Everyone here talks about the "alphas" getting all the women nowadays...well, cynics have always whined about that, from Montaigne to Heinlein to today. But they don't ever seem to have much quantitative evidence that the behaviours they note are in fact the norm. Everyone who tries to actually measure human behaviour instead of strike a pose, seems to conclude monogamy is pretty popular.

Maya said...

Not so Big Love,

You seem to infer that I was criticizing monogamy for being invented by men. Actually, I have nothing against men and appreciate any good ideas/inventions men happen to produce. I'm a it put off by your use of terminology, usually reserved for emotionally unstable men.

Women are evolved for short relationships with transient men? (I'm assuming you have poor understanding of the biological term "alpha", and you meant it as "the jerk who's more attractive than you".) Do you have any remotely logical bio-anthropological arguments to support that statement? Lionesses and gorillas stay close to the pack of their polygamous mate, and so do women in primitive cultures. They choose their mates for the superior genes above all else, so they are highly unlikely to bear anyone else's offsprings.

Of course, in the universe that Roissy occupies, the losers only want the women that are desired by other men, and usually in a bar setting. Then, you are right, it's all about the jerks who are better looking than you, and as many of them as possible. Chasing after tipsy women who attach their self-worth to the brand of their purse must be a frustrating endeavor for a guy who doesn't know how to wear the correct shoes. Someday, I'll come out with a camera and enough money to buy some bottom shelf vodka shots as bait, and I'll study them. Did the sex&thecity clones and the dorks who masturbate to them get potty trained too late? Too early? Were they all molested with a Gucci bag in their formative years? The interesting thing is that they all seem to stick together. You either walk into a hotel's bar by mistake and see them everywhere, or you walk into an establishment and it's full of people who, at least outwardly, seem to be coping with life just fine.

Maya said...

Charlie,

I was taught that males tend to be visibly larger than females only in polygamous species. However, I was taught all this in high school/intro college classes, and I'm by no means an expert on human evolution/mating practices. I just found the topic interesting, and the explanations I was given seemed logical. But you are, most likely, right. It's all probably very complicated and multifaceted. I wonder if the European monogamy was caused by evolution and change in hormonal chemistry. Do other cultures value romance in their myths and legends as strongly as Europeans value it in their fairy tales?

Some men whine about "alphas' and always have for the same reasons obese, loud unpleasant girls in my university residence hall would complain that all men are jerks who like only tall, anorexic, blonde bitches with fake breasts instead of nice girls like them. Not everyone can pass an algebra test. Not everyone can attract a mate. More importantly, a lot of people don't even want to try to do what it takes to accomplish either. It's always easier to just sit there and whine about how the man (or woman) is keeping you down.

Dahlia said...

Steve,

That article was one of your best, helping create a paradigm shift.

I've been thinking the past couple of days about some of the differences between baby-boomer men and younger men, say in their twenties.

The view of polygamy underwent a huge change. My memory as a nineties teenager was that all secular men were for polygamy regardless of whether they were popular, unpopular, etc.

Blaming "religious guilt" or "Catholic guilt" for romantic frustrations is another thing that proved to be generational. My early twenty-something sister has never heard those terms, but they were ubiquitous for decades (I'd love Agnostic to do a search of those terms :)).

Relatedly, white men who self-identify as pro-science/anti-religion are baby-boomers in my experience 100% of the time; few young men blame religion for their lack of success in any realm today and science has been validating conservatives as of late.

headache said...

All told, the 87-year-old has married 107 women...


Three years ago, Islamic authorities in Niger, a majority Muslim state with Sharia, or Islamic law, ordered that Maasaba divorce 82 of his wives, keeping four.

107-4 = 82?? Nice to see that Muslim "scholars" can do the math.

Anonymous said...

"How quickly could this distinct genetic trait be lost under modern irrational and unsustainable "welfare" wealth transfers from the productive/responsible to the unproductive/irresponsible?"

I say in one more generation b/c said genetic trait is already being treated as if it were something pathological.

I remember being criticized in an interview when I discretely and indirectly put forth that as a single, childless woman I would never need days off to take care of a sick child. The job in question barely paid enough for an individual let alone a mother with one or more offspring. Yet, there I was being chastised for promoting my single self needing a job as the best candidate for the job. Better that I go out and get myself knocked up by some guy too poor to afford a wife and/or a child than to be a single female who can get by with a roommate and/or very cheap lodgings on what wages the local employers can afford.

I'm certain that it never occurred to the man who antagonized me that 1) I needed to eat, too, and; 2) that a single mother would have to have her income supplemented by child support or welfare (therefore tax dollars) while I might just be able to make it on the wage the employer could afford to pay.

That the employer would have to pay the single mother the going rate for labor + whatever was being demanded through taxes for the child in order to get a realistic idea about the cost of hiring the responsible vs. the irresponsible never occurred to him. Obviously, it was a bit inconvenient, even counterproductive, to think this way.

I know this is anecdotal but think this relates to how a white male with or without children who wants to make it on his own can be seen as some sort of competitor to the partially privatized welfare state. How much do companies get in tax breaks for hiring the irresponsible who can't be expected to plan parenthood?

IMO, the middle class average to very bright IQ workers are the ones who get punished for the ability and good character/discipline that formerly made them effective and valuable workers. Now, without the advantage of some Machiavellian double-mindedness which cancels out character, such people are at a distinct disadvantage.

kurt9 said...

My experiences with Arabs who are pro-polygamy is that they truly believe that there are 3 to 4 times as many women in any given society than there are men. The basic concepts of biology seem to elude them. I think these kinds of people have brains that truly do not work properly.

No so Big Love said...

Maya said...
Not so Big Love,

You seem to infer that I was criticizing monogamy for being invented by men.


No. I just riffed out a subject you introduced. My comment had nothing to do with you specifically.

I'm a it put off by your use of terminology, usually reserved for emotionally unstable men.

Yeah, dispassionate observation about male-female behaviors are jarring and seem to emotionally destabilize to those living pretty lies...

Women are evolved for short relationships with transient men?

You misquoted me "a series of transient alphas". Transient both because the alpha has other women in his harem to service and because all too soon the next alpha comes along and takes over the harem.

(I'm assuming you have poor understanding of the biological term "alpha", and you meant it as "the jerk who's more attractive than you".)

Your social cat fighting and status seeking faux definition of alpha is amusing but beside the point. More properly, an "alpha" is the dominant male in the social groups that characterize great apes including humans.

Do you have any remotely logical bio-anthropological arguments to support that statement.

See my explaination above. Female primates largely passively accept whichever various and sundry alpha males can impose themselves upon her. They seem to equally bond to offspring of various alphas, but the alpha males will often kill or drive off offspring that is not theirs.

The so-called "Stockholm Syndrome" is an example of the natural malleability of female great apes (specifically the human variety) to submit to the next alpha male in their life.

Of course, in the universe that Roissy occupies, the losers... jerks... tipsy women who attach their self-worth to the brand of their purse... frustrating endeavor for a guy... dorks who masturbate... potty trained... molested with a Gucci bag....

You have a lot of not so latent anger towards the world Roissy describes. He's insufferable in ways, but he is merely the messenger or, at worst, a free-rider. The decadence, denialism and defeat of reality that Roissy rails against is not his creation.

Maya said...

Could it be that subsaharan africans and arabs are so reckless, violent and impulsive in their youth that come adulthood, there really is a large surplus of women? I currently teach in the inner city ghetto, and that seems to be the case. The boys are extremely thoughtless and violent. In my short stay here, we already had 2 boys shoot their own brothers (out of anger, not stupid gun accidents) and a boy thrown over the rails, off the 3rd floor. The girls are out of control as well, but nothing compared to the boys.

The first part of my childhood was spent in the eastern block, a place a bit less civilized than the western world. My mother would always pay close attention to my weight/manner/hair. She'd say that by the time I start looking for a husband here will be a lot less young men than young women because "boys are stupid, don't listen to their mamas and always crawl around the abandoned construction sites, ride on top of elevators and fight with bottles. Eastern Europe was a polygamous society before Christianity put an end to it in 988.

Harry Baldwin said...

Can we agree that THIS guy is an Alpha?

Anonymous said...

185 children, 52 of whom are dead - all probably by the age of 60, if not well before.

I wonder how many of those 185 are actually his children. I wonder if any of them are actually his grandchildren, or even great-grandchildren (i.e., due to a son or grandson shagging one of his younger wives). I would not be shocked if half of them aren't his own.

Anonymous said...

"With so many wives, how does he meet their romantic needs?
He smiles. Everyone asks him that."

He meets HIS romantic needs. Who cares about the women. Besides, some of them have to be pretty old. It would the young ones that count.