—This paper argues that non-recognition of polygyny is a product of ethnocentrism that permeated South Africa right from the advent of colonialism. The institution of Polygyny raised the eyebrows of both colonialists and missionaries immediately when it came to their attention and they started to treat it with distaste. Colonialists tried by all means to out root it from its core merely because it was not in line with their western morals, values and way of life. Ultimately, all customary marriages and religious marriages that are potentially polygamous were not recognized as valid marriages. This non-recognition proved to be detrimental to the rights and general welfare of women and children. Despite non-recognition of polygyny for more than sixty years in South Africa, Africans never stopped to practice it. As a result of this, the government of South Africa was forced by the circumstances to ultimately recognize it in order to avoid social ills that were created by non-recognition.
—Polygyny, non-recognition, customary marriage and customary union.
Nqobizwe Mvelo Ngema is with University of Zululand, South Africa (e-mail: ngemaNM@unizulu.ac.za).
Cite: Nqobizwe Mvelo Ngema, "Non-recognition of Polygyny: Is It a Solution or an Opening of a Pandora’s Box? Some Lessons from South African Experience," International Journal of Social Science and Humanity vol. 6, no. 10, pp. 805-808, 2016.