So, five months ago, in early December, my cousin’s husband, Bashi Malama, took off and disappeared in thin air without notice.

Two months later, in January, word came that the disappeared had been spotted alive-and-happy at another house in a nearby township; this is to say, in plain language, that he was staying with another woman.

We broke the news to the wife, Bana Malama, who, with carefree abandon, responded with one word; “bakabwela,” and continued eating, unbothered.

We repeated the information, taking turns, just in case she didn’t hear us correctly, “Bana Malama, your husband, Bashi Malama, who you are married to, who we thought was in danger, is living with another woman, sharing the same bed at a place not so far from here.
The second response was even shorter; “so?”

In collective anger and bewilderment, we stopped talking to her for a couple of days. When that didn’t yield the result we wanted, we conjured stories which we loudly shared of husband-A who ended up marrying a second wife, husband-B who never returned home, husband-C who brought home STIs, of wife-D who justifiably beat up the other woman, and wife-E who left her philandering man and landed herself a prince in shining armour. None of these stories permeated Bana Malama.

Last week, Bashi Malama returned unannounced and silently as he had left. Bana Malama neither welcomed nor unwelcomed him; the two just slipped back into pre-disappearance norms.

The lived experience has turned Bana Malama into a social scientist. Over the years, she has observed social phenomena, examined patterns, analyzed trends, looked at outcomes before arriving at her scientific conclusion; “Bakabwela” — he will come back.

Bana Malama believes in three things. Thing one is that all men, without exception, are polygamous. Thing two is that all women, without exception, cannot stop thing one. Thing three is that each woman must either take it or leave it, nothing in between. She has chosen to take it.

I have in the past written fervently about polygamy. The premise for my argument was and still firmly remains that polygamy is natural, and that monogamy is a social construct, a learned behavior. Monogamy, the sexual commitment to only one partner at a time, ‘till death do us sander’ is not achievable for most men, except for a few (God bless them). The reasons abound, and will not belabor them here.

My views have drawn sharp and often contrasting responses from men and women. The latter accusing me of promoting promiscuity, with some offering to pray for me because the “the devil is using you.” The former have largely been agreeable, others even sharing detailed experiences, mostly about wanting but struggling to stay monogamous.

I stand by my argument; all men are polygamous. Those who are not are because of resolve and self control, while the rest are a matter of time and opportunity.

A study by Conley et al. (2012). Journal of Sexual Medicine, 9, 1559-1565, observed that those who consider themselves monogamous are not always sexually faithful, are unlikely to use condoms during their outside sexual encounter, and are unlikely to inform their partners in keeping with their self-image of being monogamous.

The study concluded that “unprotected monogamy” is riskier than “condom protected promiscuity.” Therefore, as a strategy for preventing sexually transmitted infections, condom use is a much safer option than monogamy which has a notoriously high failure rate.

Am I suggesting that there are no men out there in Zambia, the rest of Africa and the world who are not monogamous? No. I want to believe that they are there, and if they are, they know themselves.

One of my girlfriends has sworn never to date an African man again, because “they cheat on you and mess you up big time; I am now doing Europeans only,” she declared, buying into the myth all too common among some African women that Caucasian men, unlike Black men, are predisposed to monogamy. No use trying to convince her that the European stock of men are not exactly cleansed of polygamous urges, contrary to Western popular culture that portrays them as a faithful-loving-feminized-domesticated lot.

Repeatedly, I have been asked whether I would marry into or be in a polygamous relationship. A contemptuous question pretending to be philosophical if you ask me.

I must perhaps reflect on the advice of Bana Malama, too wise for her age, in particular, her thing two, that no woman, without exception, can stop a man, other than himself, from dreaming of, fantasizing about, wanting to, being and having sex with more than one woman.
But, it is her thing three advice to women which I find most arbitrary, profound, brutal, wise and conclusive; take it or leave it.

In my painstaking conclusion, a monogamous man is an indulgence, a wish list, a construct, a lottery win, a privilege of select women, and less an inalienable right of every woman.

It is what it is, folks!