Wednesday, May 29, 2024

When One Wife is not Enough


MOSES Phiri with his four wives and two of his children
MOSES Phiri with his four wives and two of his children

By Jack Zimba

“I DECIDED to marry four wives because one woman could not satisfy my desire as a man,” says Moses Phiri of Mulangeni village in Chief Chanje’s area.

Mr Phiri, 41, married his first wife, Lizyness, in 1993.

But in 1997, Mr Phiri befriended and fell in love with Loveness Banda of neighbouring Bonzo village, whom he met at a village soccer match. Mr Phiri still fancies himself as a good soccer player.

Within only a month, the two were discussing marriage.

“I would lie if I said I found anything wrong with my wife, she was okay,” says Mr Phiri. “I just needed one more woman to satisfy my sexual hunger.”

But when he told Lizyness about getting a second wife, she strongly objected to the idea.

“She was very unhappy, and I understood why; she is a woman and wanted to have a husband all to herself,” says Mr Phiri, who makes a living through subsistence farming.

In order to appease his wife and get his wish granted, Mr Phiri gave Lizyness a chicken, as per Chewa custom.
A few years later, Mr Phiri had added two more women to his harem.

And Lizyness? Well, she seems to have gotten over her unhappiness of having to share her husband with other women, so much so that she now speaks in favour of polygamy.

“The goodness of being in this marriage is that we work together, but also we have a husband who handles his affairs very well, he doesn’t skip the time to spend with each one of us,” she says.

Mr Phiri spends two days with each of his wives.

To enhance his sexual drive, he uses an aphrodisiac called vubwi, which is a wild root ground into a powder.
He says vubwi is so potent, that it even helps in women who have difficulties conceiving.

“When I married my second wife, she had stayed nine years in her previous marriage without a child, but now she has a child, and is expecting another,” he says.

Mr Phiri has nine children, six with his first wife.

He also says he takes the issue of HIV/AIDS seriously, and he and his wives regularly test for the virus.


There is no hint of trouble in the Phiri household. The four women do many things together.

“We go to fetch water together, we sit and chat and even groom each other’s hair,” says Lizyness.
All the three women have the same reasons for entering this polygamous union, and they did it with full knowledge.

“I knew he already had three wives, but I just wanted to be his fourth wife because I liked him,” says Esnart Soko.

Esnart says she has seen many benefits of being in a polygamous marriage.

“There was a time when I was away in my parents’ village which is far from here and my son was badly hurt with an axe,” she narrates, “it was my friends who took care of him. So I have seen the benefits of being in a polygamous marriage.”

By “friends” Esnart is referring to the other wives of her husband’s.
And while many women will frown upon this marriage, raising issues of jealousy, these four wives claim they live in harmony.

“When I came here, my friends received me very well, we don’t fight. The two women I found were very kind, and even the fourth one who joined us later was also kind-hearted and so we live happily together,” says Florence Tembo, who is wife number three.

For Florence, this is her second polygamous relationship. Before she got married to Mr Phiri, Florence was married to a man who had three wives. She now boasts of some experience in such affairs.
“Being in a polygamous marriage is not difficult,” she says.

Mr Phiri met Florence at gule (a cultural festival of the Chewa that brings out masked men called Nyau to perform various dances). Mr Phiri says Florence was smitten by his drumming, and the two fell in love almost immediately.


But while the women seem very tolerant and accommodating of each other, any suggestion of a fifth wife gets even the less vocal of the four raising their voices in protest. It seems five is a crowd.

“We can’t allow a fifth wife because she will just bring trouble. The four of us are enough,” says Lizyness.
But it is Esnart, the fourth wife, who makes the strongest protest.

“He has already divided the field among us and, look, there is not enough space in this compound to build a fifth house. If she comes, we won’t be nice to her,” she says as they all giggle and laugh, like a bunch of sisters.

Mr Phiri’s homestead has four small houses of burnt bricks with thatched roofs. He has also apportioned a field to each of the four wives to cultivate.

But maybe the four women will not have to worry much about a fifth addition to their household.

“Right now I don’t have any lovers outside my home, I have all I need. I’m now satisfied,” says Mr Phiri.

Mr Phiri is not the only one in Chief Chanje’s chiefdom who has married more than one wife. Polygamy is a common practice among the villagers here.

Malamulo Zulu married his first wife in 2000 and in 2013, he married a second wife.

“I decided to marry a second wife because whenever my wife went to visit her parents, I remained alone to take care of the children,” says the 38-year-old peasant of Dongolose village.

Unlike Mr Phiri, Mr Zulu did not face any objection from his wife to marry a second wife.

“I allowed it because it helps a lot. When one is sick, for example, the other is able to help,” says Mr Zulu’s first wife, Misozi Banda.

In fact, Misozi speaks well of the second wife, Clara. “She is a well-mannered woman,” she says of her. Misozi says as long the women are united, there are no feelings of jealousy between them. She says she and her husband’s second wife are now like twins, doing many things together. “Sometimes we even bathe together,” she says.

As for Clara, she says she doesn’t have any feelings of being second wife. “I feel like I’m his only wife,” she says, leaning against her husband.

There is no hint of jealousy in Misozi’s face, who is sitting on the other side. Mr Zulu says he has no plans of marrying another wife, “unless I find a problem with my current two wives.”

But if he marries a third wife, he risks being excommunicated from his church. Mr Zulu and his family are devoted members of the Last Church of God and His Christ, which allows polygamous relationships, but only if one married more than one wife before joining the church.

In fact Mr Phiri is the pastor of that church.


Both Mr Phiri and Mr Zulu say having many wives has helped them to avoid extramarital affairs.

“There are some men who condemn polygamous marriages, but they have many girlfriends and they even have children with those girlfriends. It’s better you bring those children home so that you raise them together with your other children. Even when I die, these children will support each other,” says Mr Phiri.

For Mr Zulu, marrying more than one woman also stops one from spending on girlfriends.

“Many husbands spend a lot of money on girlfriends, but it’s better you marry that woman so that you spend the money within your home,” he says.

But it seems the men here also marry more wives for economic reasons.

“Instead of engaging a worker from elsewhere, it’s better to get another wife so that you work together to develop your farm,” Mr Zulu says.


  1. The only point i get is that one doesnt need to spend on girlfriends. Man! I spend too much on em girlfriend. I shud just marry another one…

    • Poor women own nothing except the tattered second hand salaula , they all look like beggars. Kwati pali nabalume? That idiiot of a husband is a good for nothing who is just spreading diseases

    • It is good from the cultural relativity perspective. After all, all men are polygamous by nature. It is just the societal expectations that makes us monogamous. This is a trait that cuts across the animal kingdom. Well done ah Zulu, epashili pakuleka.

    • @Saulosi.
      All men are polygamous by nature? LOL. You mean its genetic? Do you have any scientific evidence to support your theory?

    • @BRABUS

      Yes i have. I am close friends with one of the behavioral scientists who did this research. I can put some links for you so that you read some scientific articles on this subject, though Lusaka times will just end up removing them like they do always. Anyway just put “men are polygamous by nature” in your google search engine, you will come up with a lot of hits.

    • He is okay. Monogamy is just a western concept. Most of you are busy condemning him just because you are products of western education. As long as he and his wives are fine with it then hakuna matata. No need of you using your moral compass as a yardstick to measure others. They might be poor in your westernized reading glasses, but not by his standards or his community. Being poor is relative, so jump off your high horses and use your standards in your own westernized environments.

      AND THE MAN IS AN *****.

    • @saulosi, your Google advise is too cheap, it’s not your scientists friends who teach us wisdom.
      Phiri is just an honest womanizer. Us men enjoy admiring women, I miss Dora mwee. But a real man stay with one woman, dispute the looks. Don’t go too far, you wonder why Edgar settled to Ba Ester, secret is in bedroom.
      Phiri has 2 of his wives who are much older than him, maybe balamupela better…. But he still not satisfied, then Phiri don’t just have respect of women, chikkalla tatasha fye.

    • @Nostradamus
      I am not saying polygamy is the best, in case you miss my point. Personally i cant be in a polygamous marriage. My point is that we are inherently wired to be polygamous. If you were to take a look at all the societies (Tahitian, rural Africa, pre-European Native American societies) that are yet to embrace westernization you will find that polygamous is widespread. Like Mo taim said above, monogamy is just an off shot of westernization which by virtue of our colonization and our western centric education we are now part of. In this man world he has everything he needs. All he needs is a piece of land to have all he needs, unlike you who also wants a car, expensive wine, air conditioned house, cable TV and other luxuries as your idea of not being poor.

    • @Saulosi, yes @ MoTaim was so right. I praise when correct. Like that day I showed praises on your mourning of Ba Sata, and you never refered to your DRs in PF. I am against your Western researches and you Zambian Dr-somethings mentality.
      Read your comment again @Saulosi, you may even support gay-marriage because your scientists friends are studying it.

    • @1.4 saluosi,
      There is NO empirical scientific evidence thus far to support your theory that all men are genetically polygamous. Period. Your “close friend who is a ‘behavioral’? scientists did this research” story only points to cultural evidence driven by traditional norms, and NOT by genetics.

      I am not sure you understand what scientific empirical evidence is.

      Going by your method, you can as well google ‘women are polyandry by nature’ (polyandry = One woman married to many men at the same time) have a lot of hits, and come to the same conclusions. Or if you want a jaw dropper, google ‘men are pedophile by nature’.

    • @ BRABUS
      If you took your time to look up articles on the net you can find a lot of articles done by anthropologists/behavioral scientists with enough empirical/ statistical data to support the theory. But again maybe i am able to quickly find those article by virtue of my training as a researcher. I gave examples of native tribes which are detached from the arms of westernization where polygamy is socially accepted. Just go into your family tree five or more generation down the family tree you will find a lot of polygamy. Your forefathers practiced it starting from the first living organism formed to the apes we evolved from.

  2. As a human being, one can decide to do whatever they want. That’s his choice. The only issue I have with stuff like this is the issue of children. I definitely wouldn’t want to be his child. You’ve got no chance being his child.

    And why do people like him even bother going to church? Which bible do they use?

    • The same one you use after drinking on Friday and Saturday, the same one you use after comitting adultery the same one you use after lying!

    • @Kumikoti very funny. The Bible is full of everything that is why all hues use it to justify their behaviors. There is polygamy (with Kings anointed from such unions in Yahweh’s name), genocide (with Yahweh’s help), slavery (in Yahweh’s name) and much, much more besides. So what Bible are you exactly talking about? I know, I know, there is always the oscillation between the Old and New Testament when things get sticky. Is that where you are heading?

  3. According to biologists man is a naked ape because other apes have furs and if our cousins other apes can have more than one wife who are we to be any different. Forget about being created in the image of God but believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution.

    • Most polygamists in rural areas don’t even know what their kids get up to, because they just have too many, they leave everything to the wives to be in charge yet all they do is making babies with them, spreading diseases, no medical aid, no enough food for everyone.
      To some extent it is like some people enjoy living in poverty ,because they just seem to be so helpless about the situation they are in.

  4. The last sentence says it all. The man is sleeping with his workers.

    “Instead of engaging a worker from elsewhere, it’s better to get another wife so that you work together to develop your farm,” Mr Zulu says.

    An engaging story nevertheless. A welcome break from the usual politrickal stories

    • I doubt the is any advantages of having many wives and children, all it brings is life misery that remains unsolved., we as a nation must just wake up, and stop leaving a lie or in a dream, face the facts and stand up speaking out, fighting against polygamy as a way of ending poverty, as much as not only polygamy causes poverty, polygamy comes with many ways of contributing to poverty. If from now on people can just start having one partner or stop having many babies even outside marriage poverty can be reduced to the extent that the world will become a better place to live in when everyone gets something to eat every night before going to bed.

    • I doubt THERE is any advantages of having many wives and children, all it brings is life misery that remains unsolved., we as a nation must just wake up, and stop leaving a lie or in a dream, face the facts and stand up speaking out, fighting against polygamy as a way of ending poverty, as much as not only polygamy causes poverty, polygamy comes with many ways of contributing to poverty. If from now on people can just start having one partner or stop having many babies even outside marriage poverty can be reduced to the extent that the world will become a better place to live in when everyone gets something to eat every night before going to bed.

    • Ba Foloshi, is it not accepted in Zambia now that one must marry a woman who works to help with bills?? What is so different about Mr Phiri to marry women who can help in the family “business”?? You are being a hypocrite and your comment is unfair to Mr Phiri.

    • I honestly don’t care about their looks. You don’t expect him to pull “imprety” do you? It’s the kids he is having.

    • @spyderman banda:
      Mother fu.cker you are!! Give those women Human hair; Lipstick; High-heeled shoes, new handbags and Tight transparent skirts – and you will realise that these women look 10 times better than the old Ar,sewhore you call your wife!

  5. “But in 1997, Mr Phiri befriended and fell in love with Loveness Banda”
    FELL IN LOVE? LOL, Obviously ‘love’ is defined differently in this context. This is simply a boss and his workers, who have an oral contract, The contract consists of security, self-worth, sex and ego as per tradition. Love does not come in.

  6. Most polygamous households with an unlimited number of children remain dreadfully poor.
    Given the choice between love and money, those women would take the cash.

    “Every woman wants to be the first and only love for a man,”

  7. I would like to add to the Zambian laws the following laws:
    It is a criminal offence:
    – To take advantage of others ignorance (in the story, the women are sex slaves)
    – Marring and remarrying with endless number of unplanned children with no proven means to sustain them
    The women and children are living only a fraction of what they can be. Think about it what is their contribution to Zambia? This is 21st century WTF?

    • 80 % of Zambians both in monogamy and ploygamy, are living below the poverty line. What is their contribution to Zambia?? This is 21st century and I imagine you feel you are the greatest contributor to Zambia.

      Sounds like most of the contributors here are frustrated monogamous men envying Mr Phiri and attacking him on poverty, education, disease, love etc etc. In Zambia, since ploygamous marrages are a small minority, these problems in fact afflict more monogamous couples. Talk about disease, children of no fixed abode, no idea when and what to eat, school, love in marriages (witch doctors from far and wide ) advertising cures for love problems and instant wealth in marriages presumably for monogamous marriages all show exactly where the problem is and it is Not in Mr Phiris…

  8. Never mind the wives guys
    My wife has been accusing my of losing my “sting” over the past 4 years.
    She even asks why I can’t be upstanding like my friends….Whatever that means???

    • @jimmy
      LOL. Now, slow down and think it thru before you go into over drive. For example, going by Moses Phiri’s photo above, he has four wives whereas you have one. So, maybe you should only use a quarter of what he uses, or else you will end up more than ‘upstanding’ and she will run away.

  9. Moses Phiri wakoma akakonge necishimba cha mbushi. Every day, no rest!! You will wear out like salaula material. It is NOT a must that every day it should happen, where on earth? mwebena Chipata imwe bamambala mwakula onda! This man is just lazy he wants the women to be cultivating for him because these desperate women will be competing to work extra hard in order to have space from this poor man.

  10. I think the key word is are they happy? Even in their poorly setting they seem happy unlike someone who has herds of cattle and a big house in Kabulonga but still feels state house is his by right yet he came from the same settings as the Phiri household and he has done NOTHING to change that despite being a headman….so if they are happy so be it. After 2021 we shall as UPND under different leadership ensure people like Phiri are assisted through the creation of cooperatives they can then increase their output be able to feed the region and in the process improve their housing we shall also ensure the 14 children attend school preferably in agriculture so that the cooperatives revolve…Zambia Forward 2021….

  11. From my Journalism school it encourages cross checking of facts in a story. Ba writer it is called Vubwe a sexual enhancer and not Vubwi a district in Eastern Province. I presume this story is just a composition.

    • Please Wifi, help “Jimmy Wison” above, he desperately needs your help. And ah! while at it please provide dosage because as “Brabus” rightly points out too much can be suicidal. one Chap on the Copperbelt had to be operated on to “bleed his vein”-True story by the way. This Phiri guy though, how can he have more wives than children?

  12. Jack Zimba, 2 worth while articles from your travels to the eastern province. This trip was certainly worth while…I really did like the piece on maize smuggling and this one is even better! No politics just real life stories….great Job.

  13. Even the Bible doesn’t say you must have only one wife. Its a European cultural practice exported to all of us

    • Stoopid book it is. What about women’s feeling! Ati bibl efyototo…. that useless book is only for the gullible

  14. I am very surprised to hear that in fact Mr Phiri is even a pastor of a church. What does this man preach because the Bible condemns adultery. His church must be full of adulterers and adulteresses only who are just tarnishing the image of Christianity. They should stop using the name of Christ, it’s blasphemy.

  15. These men should allow their wives to have second, third husbands to balance the situation. Mr Phiri and Zulu will have a competitor ..

  16. @Pakudya… if you read through the story, there is somewhere it says Mr Phiri has 9 children – 6 from his first wife. Secondly, for those condemning the ‘scenario’. I wouldn’t be in such a hurry. This is Zambia and probably most of the perceived woes of Mr Phiri are due to a non-supportive or conducive socio economic environment for his better survival. The problems that he may be facing or are being attributed to him, maybe no more than the ones that a man in a monogamous marriage may be going through in the urban areas of the country (albeit in a different context) Have the aspirations of Mr Phiri in Lusaka been realised more than those of our Phiri here? In the city but struggling with debt, lack of gainful work, disease, abana abakukubepesha, etc. And this has nothing to do with…

  17. Try re-reading this story by substituting ‘he’ for ‘she’ and vice versa. i.e. Polyandry instead of polygamy and it becomes easy to see why two bull Elephants cannot hung around a female without a serious fight, what more with four. Just thinking aloud….

  18. A good story indeed, typical African tradition. At least from the writers point of view, all women are happy in this polygamous marriage, not only are the women happy, the man also sees no point of having a concubine(s). At this point it doesn’t really matter what scriptures say because anyone can use scripture to support his claim.

    Poverty as well is defined differently by individuals and society. What you deem as poverty, Mr Phiri deems it as being rich. In fact, polygamy in African tradition is a sign of wealthy. The more wives a man has, the more wealthy he is.

    Western culture demands monogamy and nowadays even having a child is a financial strategy. But African tradition is flexible, you chose monogamy or polygamy. Having a child is not an issue, all that one needs is a piece…

  19. African, European, Asian were all created by God. God created one woman for Adam. Don’t tell me there was no more dust to create more women for Adam. I rest my case

Comments are closed.

Read more

Local News

Discover more from Lusaka Times-Zambia's Leading Online News Site -

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading