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Remembering Mongo Faya, famed Cameroonian traditional healer who had 80 wives

Face2faceAfrica | In the 1980s, he made news in Cameroon when, at the age of 35, he married six more wives, bringing his total to 36. Mongo Faya, a musician, seer, traditional healer, herbal gynecologist, parapsychologist, and astrologer, wedded his new six wives in a civil wedding ceremony in the coastal city of Douala, Cameroon, on July 11, 1987.

He had roughly 28 children at the time, with over 30 brides ranging in age from 20 to 24, residing in a little town north of Yaounde. The Cameroonian musician had also returned from the United States, where he had recorded "Stop Apartheid," his latest album.

Mongo Faya's "achievement" was reportedly envied by the country's well-known polygamists at the time, with some accusing him of employing black magic to seduce the women. He didn't seem disturbed in the least. Polygamy, according to the traditional healer and seer, was one of the continent's ancestral values that should not be lost.

According to accounts, he added, "Polygamy is not a battlefield, but a business where we live in community with mutual respect and understanding." "I don't believe in magic; my wives love me as I love them, and it is through this love that I find tranquillity and happiness." Only love has the power to bring peace."

Polygamy is a centuries-old African habit that has yet to be eradicated from modern society. It has both cultural and theological roots, and it is widely accepted in around 26 of Africa's 54 countries, particularly those with a Muslim majority. Critics argue that the practice degrades women's dignity while also increasing the danger of diseases and poverty. Thousands of women have been forced to live in polygamous marriages, a common practice among men seeking many families to work the land centuries ago. Polygamy is widely accepted in countries such as Algeria, Mali, Niger, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, and others.

Polygamy has persisted among traditional rulers in Cameroon, with individuals marrying as many wives as they want. According to DW, locals believe that males with many wives and children have mystical powers and that they help strengthen the economy. The increased cost of caring for families, the rise of Christianity, and the country's legal law, which spares jail time for adulterous spouses, have all posed challenges in recent years, according to the report.

Mongo Faya was claimed to have had 80 wives at the time of his death in 2002, and some villagers praised him for it. In the Cameroon Tribune in May 1988, writer Martin Jumbam described how Mongo Faya and his many wives previously snarled traffic in Douala. Mongo Faya arrived on the street with his bushy hair and a piece of yellow cloth, leading his squad of women in tow and blocking traffic, according to Jumbam, who was in a taxi on his way to work.

"I observed a dozen or so slender-looking, gazelle-like, spindle-legged women with wasp-like waists and large bosoms, all clad in tight-fitting, black jogging attires that left very little else to the imagination, filing out like mating ants from between two decrepit houses."

"Before I could inquire as to who those nymphets were, I heard our taxi driver turn off his automobile engine and dash out, clapping and shouting at the top of his lungs with the other idlers: "Mongo Faya!" Faya Mongo! Women's King! (King of the ladies!) and Empereur des nanas!! (Emperor of the ladies!) The ecstatic mob sang their adulation for Mongo Faya, Cameroon's much-heralded macho guy and lady-killer, from every vantage point."

A year later, 15 of his then-45 wives sued him, demanding an additional vehicle for their transportation, but the matter was eventually settled. Some of Mongo Faya's wives assisted him in maintaining his 15 hectares of plantations in Endom, while others ran modest stores and hairdressing salons in Douala that Mongo Faya had opened for them.

He would occasionally appear on television with some of his wives, claiming to be a medical man who could cure men suffering from erectile dysfunction. According to sources, he had a large number of clients over his lifetime. Mongo Faya used to appear on stage with his wife when he was a singer. He despised being likened to Fela Kuti, the Nigerian Afrobeat legend who had a slew of marriages. Mongo Faya is claimed to have declared, "Fela is Fela" and "Mongo Faya is Mongo Faya."

He also refused to let his children know who their moms were, claiming that each child belonged to all of his spouses. Since his death on July 6, 2002, at the major hospital in Yaounde, following an illness, little has been said about his wives and children.

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