Magazine article New Internationalist

4 Wives, 19 Children

Magazine article New Internationalist

4 Wives, 19 Children

Article excerpt

THIS IS ADAMA MONÉ, now 54, and below are his four wives Meryam (43), Zenabou (49), Bintu (27) and Kadiguiatou (32), together with just some of his 19 living children (though there are some grandchildren in the picture too). Zenabou (second from the left) was the star of our film 20 years ago and Adama himself made a memorable appearance, arguing with a disarming, roguish laugh: 'It is a woman's place to do that work. I don't see why I should help her.'

At that stage Zenabou had just the one co-wife and I was shocked to the core on my return 10 years ago to find that Adama had taken two further wives - although I knew this was possible in principle it seemed such an extraordinary thingtodo. Bintu wasthen just 16,and herco-wives joked that she was in the first flush of love and monopolizing Adama. She didn't even have a hut of her own at that point, so Adama was certainly not 'sharing out his favours' equally in the way advocated opposite by Ousmane.

Officially they toed the party line that it's good to have co-wives who reduce the workload but when Zenabou visited me outside my hut one evening I was able to probe a bit deeper. She rolled her eyes when I asked if he'd consulted her about taking other wives - what an absurd idea! …

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