Richard Dawkins is one is the foremost critics of the blanket acceptance of cultural norms. The blind affirmation saying ‘ well that’s their culture’ is too often a weak acceptance of repression of whole sections of societies. Too often cultural differences and uniquenesses are studied and accepted unquestionally, considered fascinating by anthropologists or simply a nice picture for tourists. And they can all go home with positive memories, leaving behind the repression.
The Indian caste system removes potential from millions, leaving them swimming in their own poverty unable to improve their lives without permission from others. The same can be argued for the power dynamics regarding men and women in marriages across many religions. Its unacceptable though and shouldn’t be celebrated as diversity but recognised as the suppression of human potentiality.
Anyway, below is a curious story from South Africa. Everyone seems pretty happy about it. I just wonder how they weighed out the cow price!
A South African man is planning to marry four women in a two-day wedding ceremony, starting on Sunday.
Zulu businessman Milton Mbele, 44, is to marry the women aged between 22 and 35 in Ntlane village in Kwa-Zulu Natal and says he loves them all. The brides are to take their vows together, answering “we do” when asked if they take Mr Mbele as their husband.
Polygamy is common in parts of Kwa-Zulu Natal but only the first wife is legally recognised. South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, an ethnic Zulu, has three wives. But it is not usual to marry more than one woman at the same time.
The four brides – Thobile Vilakazi, Zanele Langa, Baqinisile Mdlolo and Smangele Cele – all know each other. Mr Mbele has paid a total of 33 cows in ilobolo, or bride-price, for his soon-to-be-brides. He paid 10 cows for Ms Vilakazi, seven for Ms Langa and eight each for Ms Mdlolo and Ms Cele, reports the Sowetan newspaper.
“We don’t see anything unusual about our marriage. We agreed to marry him at the same time because we love him,” Miss Cele told the newspaper. “It does not matter if we have marriage certificates or not, what is important is that he loves us.”
The ceremony begins with a traditional event on Sunday followed by the exchange of vows in a local church. “Marrying many wives is our culture,” Mr Mbele said. “However, what is different is to marry all of them at once. I am doing this because I love all these women.” He said the response he has received to his wedding plans has been amazing. “Many people are looking forward to see me making history.”