At the older boys centre there is a Muslim teacher who comes a few times a week to do Islam studies with the boys who are Muslim. For the centre not to do this would be illegal. I see him every now and again. He and the teachers are all friends. I love seeing that, especially as this is the same property where the church was destroyed by an angry mob a few months ago.
This week he was telling me how he has two wives. I responded with “Ohhh, difficult.” He laughed and laughed and shook my hand. Was pretty tickled by the comment. I wasn’t really sure what to say so luckily the first thing that popped out of my mouth he found funny and not offensive.
His first wife has no children and his second wife has. One of my friends neighbors is a lady who has been married for a couple of years. They have no children. This is an embarrassment to a couple, specifically, to a woman. These things are always viewed as the fault of the woman.*(See end note) He is taking a second wife just so he can have children. He explained to his wife that it is only to have children, not for any other reason. Can you imagine how both the first and second wives must feel about the whole thing? One not able to produce the one thing that both she and her husband want, and the other basically only being used as a baby maker. I think it’s so sad.
I tread on eggshells here. It is a tricky thing. On the one hand the West could learn a thing or two about close familial ties. On the other hand…it is extremely difficult to understand how women are viewed and treated sometimes here. I know of non-believers here who have been touched by the verses in Ephesians that command wives to submit to their husbands, but on the same hand for husbands to love their wives. It is a revolutionary idea for some. I’m no going to pretend that I fully understand the culture(s) here. But I do see pain and cracks in the surface.
*And in all actuality it is usually due to some malfunction in the woman’s body. Usually the result of the illegal, yet still widely practiced, tradition of circumcising girls as to guarantee their purity until marriage.