Three women sharing one man can be a recipe for disaster in any house but the wives of Professor Solwayo Ngwenya have managed to build a sisterhood which they say has defied the odd.
Their story generated a lot of debate last week after their husband, a Bulawayo renowned gynaecologist came out with his traditional side confirming that he is a happy polygamist.
While some rubbished the cultural practice which still exists in some Zimbabwean families, others argued that no three women can live in peace under one roof especially when sharing a man.
Others also debated how they equally distribute domestic duties as Prof Ngwenya reiterated that equality is the cornerstone of any successful polygamous marriage.
Chronicle caught up with the Ngwenya wives, MaMnkandla, MaMkwananzi and MaKhanye this week who openly spoke about their polygamous marriage, the good and the bad.
The youngest MaKhanye recently gave birth and was not in a position to go in depth just like the heavily pregnant MaMkwananzi, leaving MaMnkandla the senior to shed more light.
She said their marriage was unique and cannot be easily understood by anyone who is not in touch with their real culture.
“Most people are quick to claim that maybe we are being abused or that we are backward etc but the truth is polygamy is part of us as a people and there is nothing wrong with it as long as you accept the conditions and why it exists in the first place.
I knew that I would have sister wives from day one and when I was told that MaMkwananzi was joining us, I even called my family and told them that I had a sister wife,” said MaMnkandla laughing.
“Yes, we are housewives and we have no regrets so far as we understand why we are here and our duties in the Ngwenya household.
“We are not slaves, no, we actually have two domestic workers to help us with the cooking and cleaning as we have a duty to take care of all Ngwenya children.”
Prof Ngwenya has eight children and is aiming for more as his minimum target is 12.
MaMnkandla said although they take turns to spend quality time with their husband, everything of theirs is communal.
“We live in one big house, each one of us has a bedroom and a bathroom but we share the kitchen, lounge, TV area and everything in the house
We value family time so much and as such we have one television set which we share as we try and bond as sister wives and the children.”
MaMnkandla said when disputes arise, they openly resolve them amicably adding that moods are not tolerated in the household.
“You know polygamy is easily manageable when all parties take responsibility in playing their part, it works perfectly.
My sister wives are like my own biological sisters and yes, we are bound to disagree and fight but we always find a way to keep the Ngwenya household happy.”
MaMnkandla said besides being housewives, they also enjoy shopping sprees, dinner nights and family fun days which are essential in their marriage.
“It is also important that we treat all the children equally hence even when one is away, we ensure that they benefit from all shopping sprees.
We do have different fashion tastes of course but we spend equally and ensure that at least everyone gets all they want.
We normally shop as a family and then have our husband pay the bill.”
MaMnkandla said polygamy also requires one to be mature to make it work.
“It’s never about the money and benefits, it’s hard work maintaining harmony amongst three women and one man, it takes a lot of courage and determination.
We also know that we may have future sister wives who must be able to jell in and help us grow the Ngwenya clan.
If he dies as some people usually say, we will continue living together and raise the children together as been the norm in this household.”
Prof Ngwenya added that his marriage was not all about glam, extravagance and abuse of women but reliving the legacy left by his forefather Zwide kaLanga- the king of the Ndwandwe nation.
“Polygamy is not and was never about lust but safeguarding the legacy of the family which normally was deep rooted in culture.
Yes, I may be learned and all but I remain a proud polygamist, it’s more of a calling for me than anything else.
My career started off in England where I trained to be a gynaecologist and could easily thrive but no, I had this duty back home that I had to fulfil hence I came back to my roots,” said Prof Ngwenya.
“There is nothing as fulfilling as being in touch with one’s culture despite what everyone says because at the end, we need to take pride in whom we really are.”
Prof Ngwenya also said that polygamy is not for every man as some are quick to use the institution to fulfil lustful desires.
He said it is important for those in polygamous relationships to uphold morals to prevent sexually transmitted infections within the family.
“Polygamy is part of my calling as Solwayo and there are many things that a human mind cannot easily comprehend.
In my family we are accountable to each other and we try and avoid wild behaviours so that we are all safe, I mean honesty should reign.
I will rather officially marry three women, live with them than have extra marital relations, it’s not right.
I also cannot expect one woman to give me 15 children, it can’t, these people must be treated with love, respect and cared for because they play an important role in our lives as humans,” said Prof Ngwenya.
He said men should work very hard to provide for their families whether they are big or small. -Chronicle