Monogamous marriage is a type of marriage whereby a man marries one wife.
Does Yorùbá culture support monogamous marriage? Is the concept of monogamy a taboo among the Yorùbás? Is monogamy a foreign culture among the Yorùbá people?
In the quest of seeking for an appropriate answer to these questions, we later stumbled at this proverb:
“A kì í gbé àárín èjì ènìyàn ká má ṣì wí, ló mú kí Ọbàtálá fẹ́ Yemòó nìkan”.
(One does not live amidst two women without acting wrongly, this prompted Ọbàtálá to marry only Yemòó).
We felt enlightened to share the story with you. For clarity purpose, we need to give the brief historical event that led to the emergence of the proverb.
In the ancient town of Ifẹ̀ Oòdáyé (the cradle of the human race), the abode of all deities before they were dispersed to their destined location where they are deified till this day.
The deities were all held in high esteem by the people because of their mystical powers. This prompted most families to give their daughters to them in marriage. Ṣàngó (the deity of thunder) married 16 wives. This is in accordance with the saying that:
“Òòṣà mẹ́rìndínlógún ní ń bẹ l’ọ́ọ̀dẹ̀ Ṣàngó;
Níbi ká ṣánpá, níbi ká yan;
L’Ọya fi gb’orí lọ́wọ́ gbogbo wọn”.
(Sixteen deities (wives) were in Ṣàngó’s vineyard;
Ọya became the favorite among them;
As a result of her unique fashion and style).
Ọ̀rúnmìlà (the deity of wisdom) has countless wives, so also is Ògún and other deities.
Despite all these, Ọbàtálá (the deity of invention & creativity) who is regarded as the head of them all never marry more than a wife, Yemòó.
The ancient people of Ifẹ̀ were amazed at this fact, and try to make an inquiry from him. At the interview, Ọbàtálá responded with the saying: “A kì í gbé àárín èjì ènìyàn ká má ṣì wí” (One does not live amidst two women without acting wrongly). The people then concluded in attestation thus: Ló mú kí Ọbàtálá fẹ́ Yemòó nìkan” (this prompted Ọbàtálá to marry only Yemòó).
At this juncture, it is pertinent to conclude on the existing fact that the concept of monogamy is not a taboo among the Yorùbá people of old, neither is it a foreign culture brought by the colonial government. This shows that the concept of monogamy had been embedded into our culture from time immemorial.