Mourners attending the funeral of a bishop were amused after his seventh wife introduced six of his former wives with whom he had 23 children.
Bishop Ken Kwasira of the Word of Christ Prophetic Church had separated from all six wives before marrying his seventh. He also left behind a three-month-old baby born out of wedlock, with the minor presented to the mourners by his mother.
Kwasira, 50, was buried on Saturday in his village of Burimbuli in Shinyalu, Kakamega County. His ex-wives described him as having a wandering eye. The bishop, who had a church and shrine in his compound, remains the talk of the village. Even local leaders, including the area chief, hailed him as a hard-working man.
“Bishop Ken will be remembered as a bishop who left many children in our village, fulfilling the biblical command to fill the world,” said the area chief to cheers from the mourners.
Kwasira’s youngest wife surprised the mourners when she recognised all his ex-wives.
“I know that as we bury my husband today, there are women in this congregation who also claim to be his wives, having given birth for him. I now call on all of them to come and eulogise him with me before this congregation,” said Damaris Okaya.
The women did not shy away from confirming to the mourners that they had previously been married to the deceased and had separated after giving birth to several children. They eulogised the deceased as a caring husband who also remained committed to taking care of his children even after separating from their mothers.
“As I stand before you, I congratulate my late husband for being a caring father who took care of his children even after separating from me. I wish him well as he joins our ancestors,” said one of the wives.
The mourners praised the late bishop for sending all his children to school. His older children have completed their college education and are now working, while others are in secondary school. “As teachers, we salute the deceased for fulfilling his obligation to pay school fees for his children. He was a responsible man,” said a teacher at one of his children’s schools.
At the same time, Ms Okaya expressed fear that the family would disintegrate as some of Kwasira’s children had started demanding a share of his property.
“Even before the burial of my husband, some of his children have started giving me headaches by demanding for a share of his property. Pray for me so that God will give me wisdom on how to deal with these children,” she said.
Polygamy is common in traditional African communities. Some indigenous Kenyan Christians have also embraced it, despite modern Christianity’s disapproval.
In 2014, former President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a law legalising polygamy, despite criticism from women’s groups. During debate in Parliament, then Kiambu MP Gathoni Wamuchomba urged men to marry more wives if they are able to support them.
Also Read: Mt Kenya’s noisy debate on family size
Polygamy, however, has been condemned by leaders of the country’s mainstream churches.
Will of God
“Polygamy is against the will of God and we must desist from it,” the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a recent statement. Archbishop Philip Anyolo of Nairobi said leaders should work to promote and protect family values instead of embracing polygamy.
However, some churches do not see polygamy as a sin. Pastor Vincent Mulwa of the Christ Pilgrim Restoration Centre, a Nairobi-based Pentecostal church, said the Bible has examples of “holy men with many wives” and therefore there should be no problem with Christians practising it.
“The number of wives or concubines one has does not matter and is not a measure of holiness,” Pastor Mulwa said.