Central African neigbours, Ugandan and Kenya, seem to espouse contradictory positions on polygamous marriages.
While in Kenya, MPs have passed a law which makes any woman a married man goes home with another wife, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has blasted his fellow men who flippantly marry multiple women, saying polygamy “undermines family cohesion and sustainable use” of resources.
“Don’t marry anyhow. If you marry many wives, they will not have the same focus and spirit. They will not work together,” he advised.
Addressing the centenary celebrations for St Patricio Muhito Catholic Parish Church in Sheema District, President Museveni said joint family projects can only succeed if the children are very close brothers and sisters.
“If a woman is producing, why do you add another one?” he asked, pointing out that resources like land for farming get sub-divided into small pieces as shares and parceled out to family members, making “meaningful production for profitable projects that would have generated income for the family” impossible.
Though he may not marry more than one wife himself, President Museveni however said those who can afford to look after many wives could marry them but that they should “put them apart”.
The Ugandan President also advocated property rights for girls, advising fathers and family heads against leaving out their daughters while sharing family property.
“It is not proper for a father to bequeath property, especially land, to boys and leave out girls. My father, who died last year at the age of 97, gave his daughters property other than land because that is how he wanted it.
“It is not proper to leave out girls on pretext that they will inherit land from their husbands. Me, I give property including land to all my children. I don’t think it is in order to leave out girls. What if there is no land where they have married? It is not a law (to give them land) but I think it is right,” Mr Museveni said.
The President however disagreed with women-rights activists who want legislation to compel parents to give land to their male and female children, adding “this should not be made compulsory”.
The guest speaker donated Shs30 million towards the establishment of St Patricia Girls Secondary School, a church-initiated project.
He asked residents of Sheema to desist from encroaching on wetlands, saying it is against God’s plan ‘who created hills, swamps and valleys for the various purposes.’
He advised people to observe the practices that promote good health to be able to have good brains and live longer.
”In September this year, I will be 70 years old. I have been able to fight wars because of good health,” he said and advised all “to feed well, observe proper sanitation, immunise children, fight malaria and avoid drinking alcohol, smoking and prostitution”.