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Matiyo and his Two Wives: A Further Case Study From Bunyoro1

  • J. H. M. Beattie
Extract

The following text was recorded in 1953, in Lunyoro, by my assistant at that time, Mr. Edward Byaruhanga, a young man who had just finished secondary school. It is about a man called Matiyo (I have altered all the personal names) who decided, against his father's advice, to take a second wife, and it tells how this decision led to misfortune for Matiyo and his family. Traditionally in Bunyoro men liked to have two wives, or even more if they could afford to pay the bridewealth for them, and many still do. But it is well known that such joint households are not always happy ones, for two women who are competing for the favours of one man sometimes become jealous of each other, and this may lead to accusations of sorcery, even to violence, between them. Things are more difficult now than they were in traditional times, for many modern women, even in remote areas, have been to school for a year or two, and have learned to expect a more equal relationship with their husbands than their mothers enjoyed. Such a woman, after she is married, does not always look kindly on the arrival in her home of a second wife, especially if she is younger and prettier than she is. Also, more than half a century of Christian missionary activity has led, if not to the abandonment of polygyny, at least to the recognition that monogamy is the European ideal, and so—at least from the woman's standpoint—a status of rather higher prestige by modern standards. Many women leave their husbands, even after years of marriage, when they take second wives.

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References
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Beattie, J. H. M. 1957. ‘Informal Judicial Activity in Bunyoro’, Journal of African Administration, ix, 4.
Beattie, J. H. M. 1958a. ‘Nyoro Marriage and Affinity’, Africa, xxviii. 1.
Beattie, J. H. M. 1958b. ‘The Blood Pact in Bunyoro’, African Studies, xvii. 4.
Beattie, J. H. M. 1960. ‘Homicide and Suicide in Bunyoro’, in African Homicide and Suicide (ed. Bohannan, Paul). Princeton, Princeton University Press.
Beattie, J. H. M. 1963. ‘Sorcery in Bunyoro’, in Witchcraft and Sorcery in East Africa (ed. Middleton, John and Winter, E.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Beattie, J. H. M. 1964a. ‘Divination in Bunyoro, Uganda’, Sociologus, xiv. 1.
Beattie, J. H. M. 1964b. ‘The Story of Mariya and Yozefu: A Case Study from Bunyoro, Uganda’, Africa, xxxiv.
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Africa
  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
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