While existing laws in most parts of the world do not permit polygyny (man marrying several women), it was quite commonplace in the ancient world. Even in modern times, there are several communities in the world that allow men to have more than one wife. This is quite surprising, especially considering the fact that raising even a small family is quite challenging for the average person.
It’s even more astonishing to know that some men have taken polygyny to its extreme by marrying dozens of women. If it sounds unbelievable, here’s a quick look at some of the men with highest number of wives.
Ziona – A resident of Mizoram, India, Ziona has 39 wives. His family has a total of 180 members, including 94 children, 33 grandchildren and 14 daughters-in-law. The family continues to grow and has been featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Rulon Timpson Jeffs – A religious leader, resident of United States, Rulon Timpson Jeffs practiced polygyny in secret. Estimates indicate that by the time he died in 2002, he had a total of 75 wives. Around 65 children were born from these secret marriages. It has been reported that many of Jeffs’s wives were underage, some as young as 14 years of age.
Saleh al-Sayeri – A Saudi Arabian businessman, who earlier used to work as a shepherd, Saleh al-Sayeri had married 58 women in 50 years. During an interview, he had said that he has forgotten the names of several of his wives who he had divorced. Al-Sayeri does not even know correctly how many sons and daughters he had from these marriages. Al-Sayeri had described himself as the happiest man in the world and said that he never got bored of marriages.
Warren Jeffs – One of the sons of Rulon Timpson Jeffs, Warren Jeffs married most of his father’s widows. Overall, he is said to have married 80 women. As per estimates, he has around 250 children from these marriages. Warren Jeffs is currently in jail after being convicted of various charges such as sexual conduct with minors and incest. He was found guilty of arranging marriages for his followers with underage girls.
Acentus Ogwella Akuku – A Kenyan resident, Acentus Ogwella Akuku is reported to have married more than 100 women in his lifetime. He is said to have fathered more than 200 children from these marriages. His first marriage was in 1939 and the count increased to 45 by the time he was 35 years of age. The numbers kept increasing in the following years. Akuku died in 2010 when he was 92 years of age.
Polygyny could have been relevant in ancient times, when there may have been a need to produce more offspring to improve the chances of survival of a community. However, polygyny in modern times is most likely to create issues, primarily related to finance and health. For the average person with limited resources, it will be burdensome to even think about polygyny.