BLACK POLYGAMY in Nigeria
• Why I don’t support one man, one wife and how I manage my five wives
By Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Photo: Sun News Publishing
His Royal Majesty, Igwe Dr. Nkeli Nzekwe Kelly, the Okalakwu Igboariam of Okalakwu kingdom, is a traditional ruler with a difference. This is shown in his attire, carriage and the way he rules his people with love and care.
But Igwe Kelly, who has been on the throne for 16 years, has great passion for women. In fact, he told Daily Sun that his target is to marry seven wives. Presently, he has five wives who have given him 13 children.
The traditional ruler has been a lucky man as it is not difficult for him to get his women. According to him, all he needs to do to get a new wife is to just declare his interest and the woman automatically becomes his wife.
In this encounter with Daily Sun, he spoke about his kingdom, his scholarship, the agricultural heritage of his kingdom and other services to his people.
What stands me out
The only thing I know is that nobody is an angel. But I’m trying as much as I can to do what I learnt from abroad where I lived. And that is, to be straightforward in whatever I do and to tell my people the truth. That’s one thing that perhaps makes me special. I don’t know that I am special. But I believe my people love me because I love them, too. I make sure whoever I am dealing with will understand me, where I am coming from and where I am going. You will see my front and back. That’s what makes me special, nothing more than that.
I have all the traditional attire from the various kingdoms, I have them in my kingdom. I have other attires because this kingdom emanated from Benin. Initially, there was only one kingdom in Nigeria. That was the Benin Kingdom. If you watch me sometimes during my Ofala, you see the Ibiwe. Ibiwe means the bead-makers in Benin language. We have bead makers here, they make my wears. Because during the time that King Oba na Edo ruled up to this area, we called him Oba Nidu. I have the history in my kingdom. What my ancestors left behind, I’ve gone through them. The one written in Igbo and in English. I have gone through them and I discovered that there was a time those people extended up to here. There was a king that came into this place and wore the same attire.
So, what happened is, if you want to know my real attire, come on my Ofala day. Other attires, I can change to Emir attire, provided it is a Nigerian attire, but you may not know. Sometimes, I wear attire from the northerners, the Yorubas, the Tivs, the Ibibios, the Anambras, the Imos and so on. So, that’s what makes my dressing different. But if you look into it deeply, you will still see some Igbo cultural wears or traditional wears in those attire.
Life is what you make out of yourself; you cannot depend on your father’s wear because fashion changes all the time. If you are wearing this dress now, if I bought this dress last year for about, let’s say, N50, you may not find that type or style again this year. And if you buy it, they will take you as one who is not current with trends. So, I have brought everything to this level.
Wives and how I choose them
Actually, I have five wives and I am ready to marry more. It depends, because my target is seven. But I don’t know: Life and finance will determine. That is, my pocket will determine how many wives I will be able to accommodate in my kingdom. It is the tradition. You see, one man, one wife, I do not believe in it because there are a lot of women in the society now. Even sometimes, women claim that they own your house with you, the husband.
It is not done; it is only done in England where the man contributes money to the dowry with his wife, contributes money for the dowry, for feeding and every other thing from morning to night. But when you go to a woman’s house, organise a big party, sew uniforms for your wife’s friends, your in-laws, extended families, then tomorrow, will somebody say she owns your house with you? She did not contribute in building the house. How does she own the house? So, that’s why I have my wives with me and they are living happily with me and they are okay.
I choose my wives as a king. When I see somebody I like and I say I will marry you, she will follow me, that is the end of it. Then we do the next things. I will tell my people this is my wife. I don’t go to oracle, I don’t go anywhere. When any girl attracts me or any time I see a woman that attracts me, I will say it: I want to marry you. And from then on, my men will walk in there and I will leave that place and they will dig it out, get the business done for me and bring the lady home.
Managing five wives
The more wives you get, the better for you in your house. If you have only one wife, you will have more than 10 problems. If you have 10 wives, you have only one trouble in the house because instead of fighting you, they will fight themselves. All of them will be fighting to get you, to get your love and attention and you will stay quiet in your house and live long.
But if you marry only one, even if you go out, she will say why did you go and drink? But when they are many, you can go and drink, you can even sleep outside for one month and come back. Provided you know you are not cheating in any way. It depends on the individual, because I don’t like cheating someone. If you are straightforward, then you can marry more. They will not be able to stop you. The more you go in marriage, but watch always your pocket, as I said. You must be financially okay before you go into such marriages, because it involves a lot of money, a lot of spending. What you spend for one wife, times 10 or more, including on extended families. You must make sure you are sound before you go in for the second or third wife.
Our traditional stool
It means I am the servant of my people. I am working for my people and I am happy discharging my duties. I am happy working for them; it is not easy because they say uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. So, it is not easy for me. You must have a lot of challenges. But remember, challenges make you wise. When you have challenges from people, you get wiser, you get stronger, more powerful. But if you have no challenges, you become powerless; you behave like one of your subjects. I like challenges; I like people challenging me from left, right, everywhere. So, if I can defend and bring them down, then I am a good leader. If I cannot defend them and they bring me down, I am not a good leader.
Most memorable time on the throne
I enjoyed my 16 years on the throne from day one to today. I enjoyed every bit, every day of it, but Ofala days are always special times. My community is very good. They are very nice people, they are educated, they are quiet, they are not troublesome and they have understanding. I am happy throughout the 16 years I have been the king of this kingdom.
Changes in the kingdom
Very, very many changes. They have scholarships, they have light, they have everything. There have been a lot of changes since I became the king. Formerly, they were paying school fees. Today, they don’t pay anything, for over 10 years now. Even foreigners who are here do not pay, provided you pay your community dues or any communal contribution. You have to make it otherwise, your children will not be allowed in the schools. You must contribute; you must work with the community to grow the economy. We like people who work like my people. If you come here in the afternoon, you can’t see anybody here. They are all in the bush, rivers, looking for what to eat.
We have achieved a lot. Scholarships, agriculture, we grow food and grow more and more. We have loans from the government and from myself that make them do more work on their farms. If you go to where we farm now, you will see that we have extended the farms. We are even trying to pay for lands, lease lands from other communities in order to cultivate and do our farming business. The land is even not enough for us to farm.
Future vision for the kingdom
My future vision for my kingdom is to make them happy, make them grow economically and make their future bright. Through this scholarship scheme, I know we will get more educated people and from there, they will now spread to all the other parts of the world. What I want is to make them a big community, big town with rich and educated people. That’s my aim and target.
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