Marry three women at once in the DRC? forbidden but already seen

“In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a man married three women at once: triplets”. The story – a success on social networks – is a fiction but many believed it, because even if the law forbids it, polygamy continues in the DRC where some followers promote it ardently.

With supporting images, a “report” from a channel broadcast on YouTube told in early March the adventure of this young Congolese who supposedly fell in love with a woman he believed to be unique but who in fact had two perfect look-alikes, so much so that he married the three sisters.

The comments ranged from “We will have seen everything” to “He will suffer”, passing by an admiring “The guy is strong”.

All the underside of the affair has not been revealed, but a cinema director from Goma, capital of North Kivu (east), admitted to being the author of this film, interpreted by actors and supposed to evoke polygamy, based on a true story, he says.

In the neighboring province of South Kivu, the life of Chirhuza Zagabe, 60, pastor of “the primitive Church of the Lord”, one of the many churches and religious sects present in Congo, is very real.

In 2012, he married three women at the same time in his church. He later divorced one for “bad behavior”, he says, but through other marriages Mr Zagabe still has four wives. The oldest is 48, the youngest 26. Three live with him under the same roof in Bukavu, the fourth in Bujumbura, Burundi, where some children study.

“I can still get married, the ideal is to reach seven wives”, according to the pastor, also manager of the provincial branch of an oil company.

– Traditional culture –

In total, he says he has 16 children and, every Sunday in the new premises of his church still under construction, in an isolated district of Bukavu, he explains the origins of polygamy, the merits of which he praises. A few dozen faithful drink in his words, the women on one side of the central aisle, the men on the other.

In the “beginning” were “one male and many females”, assures the preaching message. “Instead of living in adultery and debauchery”, explains the pastor to an AFP team, “God authorizes the man to have several wives”.

Chirhuza Zagabe speaks with two of his wives at his home in Bukavu on March 20, 2022 (AFP – Guerchom NDEBO)

Asked in his parish of Saint-Claver de Nguba, in another district of the city, the Catholic priest Raymond Kongolo rectifies: “Polygamy is a human institution that goes back a long way in our traditional African and Congolese culture”, he specifies. . But “it is not a divine institution”.

It is not a legal institution either, underlines Joseph Yav, lawyer and professor of law in Lubumbashi (south-east). The Constitution and the family code are clear, he declares: “marriage in the DRC is monogamous”, polygamy is an offence.

But, notes the jurist, “it is nevertheless present and practiced in Congolese traditions, notwithstanding the formal prohibition of the law”. Examples are not uncommon of Congolese boasting of having a “2nd office” known to everyone, including their “1st office”.

– “Not possible” –

With his two wives and eight children, Kalungu Kalebe, 40, who attended Pastor Zagabe’s sermon, does not consider himself outlawed but “blessed by God”. “I have to follow in the footsteps of David, Abraham and Solomon, who married multiple wives,” he says.

“I’m ready to marry a man who has several wives, it doesn’t bother me at all,” also says Nathanaëlle, 15, present in the audience.

Chirhuza Zagabe calls his children for dinner at his home in Bukavu on March 20, 2022 (AFP - Guerchom NDEBO)
Chirhuza Zagabe calls his children for dinner at his home in Bukavu on March 20, 2022 (AFP – Guerchom NDEBO)

Rakel, one of the pastor’s wives, is happy to have “three children with him”, while considering the offspring of the other wives as her own children. Yaëlle also claims to live in harmony with her co-wives. But she finds that the neighbors who visited her when she was the only woman in the household have stopped coming. “They ran away from us,” she says.

“This story of polygamy is a deviation from our society, it’s inconceivable!” Gets carried away by Nicolas Lubala, a 42-year-old Catholic, accusing the primitive Church, which has existed since 1983 and whose headquarters is in Kinshasa, of ” contribute to the depravity of morals”.

“To marry a man who has other wives? It’s not possible!” Mathilde, 23, is categorical. “In polygamy, there are too many problems, disagreements between co-wives, children…” But, adds the young woman, “if the man has money and other women, that don’t mind getting attached to him”.

According to the American research center Pew Research Center, about 2% of the world’s population lives in polygamous homes and it is in Africa that the practice is most widespread (11%). In the DRC, the proportion would be 2%.

Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by

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