The man who claims to have married more than 100 wives and divorced 30 — perhaps Kenya’s most prominent polygamist — has died.
Ancentus Akuku “Danger”, the towering nonagenarian took his final bow from a life in which his appetite for marriage rivalled the Biblical King Solomon.
At his home, are graves of 12 wives and 46 surviving ones. He once said he had hundreds of children, and that 35 sons and 20 daughters had died.
So many were his children and wives that the family built a church and two primary schools to accommodate them.
According to his eldest son, Dr Tom Akuku, Danger — as he was popularly known — collapsed in the compound of his home.
“My father collapsed and was rushed to St Camilus Hospital in Karungu, Nyatike District, where his condition deteriorated. He was then transferred to Kisumu. We first took him to Agan Khan Hospital to be admitted in the intensive care unit but unfortunately, the ICU was full, prompting us to take him to New Nyanza.
“After he was certified dead, we took his body back to St Camilus mortuary” said Dr Akuku who runs a clinic in Mbita Town. That was on Saturday night.
Dr Akuku, the chairman of the family welfare association, said that his father brought up a family of diverse professionals including doctors, engineers, teachers and policemen. He cherished education.
In the 1970s, he founded and established two primary schools — Aora Chuodho and Kogore primary schools — to cater for his many children.
Due to his influence in the community, politicians interested in the Ndhiwa parliamentary seat coalesced around him, seeking advice.
Independence politicians like Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and Tom Mboya were some of his closest friends.
He married his first wife, Dinah Akuku, in 1939, while the youngest wife, Josephine Akuku, 35, was married in 1992.
He said he was called Danger because of his good looks which women found hard to resist. His most conservative estimate is that he had 160 children.
He has four villages — Manyuanda, Aora Chuodho, Kogore and Okayo in Karungu in Nyatike District, as well as other sub-homes, as he referred to them.
In a past interview, he said he drew his strength in old age as he was careful about what he ate. He avoided fat and had a particular time to eat.
He said he was responsible for the name choice of his children as a strategy to help him bond with them.
His was an empire built around small-scale business, hard working children and from the dowry paid for his many daughters.
Akuku’s family works on large parcels of land where they plant food crops. He was also a cattle dealer and most of his wives are small-scale traders.
Although not formally educated, his business acumen and oratory prowess allowed him to mingle with the high and mighty.
His fame went beyond borders, and his home hosted the international journalists seeking the story of a man who became polygamous at 22.
In addition, within the Homa Bay County, he was one of the most revered leaders who did not shy away from speaking his mind.
As the family grew, the older ones took the responsibility of education and feeding the younger ones, maintaining one of the biggest family trees in the region.
Danger’ Akuku Dies and Leaves Behind 100 Widows
Kenya’s most prominent polygamist has died having married more than 100 women in his lifetime and fathered nearly 200 children. Nicknamed “Danger” because women were so attracted by his handsome looks, Ancentus Akuku was in his late 90’s when he passed away of natural causes.
Akuku Danger was legendary in Kenya. He married his first wife in 1939 and became polygamist some 70 years ago at the age of 22. He’s outlived 12 of his wives, marrying the last one in 1992. There were so many children in his family that Akuku established two elementary schools solely to educate his children, as well as a church for his growing family to attend.
In past interviews Akuku told local journalists he was responsible for naming all of his children, as way to bond with them.
His death was the number one topic of Kenyan media today. Radio stations featured call-in shows of people, especially men, paying their respects. In many tribes having several wives was a sign of wealth and status for a man. Danger Akuku represented the ultimate symbol of traditional manhood — and of a time when gender relations seemed more simple than today.
‘Danger’ Akuku Dies, Leaving 100 Widows
“We all understand that polygamy was allowed back then in some Kenyan communities, but Akuku is something else,” said Linet Wambui, a Nairobi saleswoman.
The closest modern-day equivalent may be Swaziland’s King Mswati III
, who currently has 14 wives and 23 children. South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has been criticized for having married five women and siring over 20 children, which he defends as part of his Zulu culture.
Still, no one comes close to Akuku Danger, say those who are mourning the myth as well as the man.
“I think Akuku Danger was a character of his own nature,” said Kilumi “He can only be compared to the prophet Solomon in the Bible.”
Some Biblical accounts say that Solomon, the son of King David and later King of Israel, had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
Wilfred Wambura contributed to this report