Women trended this week and not for a good reason, rather as a butt of a joke and the ‘problem’ of polygamy, with comments emphasising ‘women wahala.’ No thanks to the wives of the Speaker of the House of Representative, Tajudeen Abbas, at his inauguration on Tuesday where one pushed away the other for space.
While nobody denies there are undertones between co-wives even where there is seamless cohesion, but even where there is strong rivalry some would not show it in public. They would present a friendly mien between themselves and pick up their quarrel when they go back home.
This should be more so for wives of public officers, especially in the full glare of the camera at his swearing in! And to make matters worse in this age of social media where things that would not be noticed before are now amplified to high heavens.
This may cause remorse, disappointment from their loved ones, embarrassment from some quarters and their husband would not be happy.
Just imagine if he is a governor, only God knows what would happen in the state with the position of the First Lady.
I recall that many years ago two wives of one governor competed vigorously at attending functions, but at least they attended different ones therefore there was no clash. Only that the state television was full of the news of the functions.
It was like a bazaar with each wife with her entourage, making people and clerics complain. One cleric asked the governor to call them to order. They were turning government into something else, but that was before the coming of social media, allowing them to get away with it.
Perhaps that is why some governors with two wives don’t encourage the office of the First Lady or the title, if you like, even though the first wife ought to be the one.
But where the second wife or third or fourth as the case may be, is more assertive, she may try to take over the position. Where the first wife may not really care and would like to leave it to her, her relations and friends may instigate her not to allow the co-wife to usurp her position. Meanwhile they may be doing it for themselves.
If care is not taken, a problem may arise where there would be different camps of the wives fighting on their behalf.
In any event some may assume that this sort of rivalry happens only where the husband is wealthy or is a high office holder, but the reality is that even where the husband is so poor that the wives have to scrounge to feed their children they still engage in rivalry.
It all boils down to how to get the affection and attention of the husband whether he is rich or poor, though there is a higher stake if he is a governor or a speaker, so you cannot afford to be sidelined and treated as if you too are not his wife. After all you hold the same position, whether he has spent forty years with the first wife and one year with you, you are both his wives.
To mitigate rivalry some men keep their wives in separate houses, but surprisingly it doesn’t prevent bitter rivalry and quarrels if they meet somewhere. For example, they may meet at the occasion of their husband’s brother’s wedding.
Some would avoid the meeting at all cost; they attend occasions on different days where possible.
If wives are living in the same house they know the whereabouts of the husband, at least if he is at home, but if they live in different houses one wife may suspect that he is always at the other wife’s house even if he is not. And if they suspect him of having a girlfriend or wanting to bring another wife, they can rally together and confront the challenge.
Though taken as a joke as ‘women wahala’, it is a serious matter where men as leaders in their homes should be firm and not allow their wives to wash their dirty linen in public.
Women as mothers should have more restraint and not engage in open rivalry with their co-wives in public. They should set good examples for their daughters. Enough of this wahala!