Mohammed Bello is 84 years old. He’s a maulvi. He has 86 wives, 170 children and lives in Bida, Nigeria.
Apparently his neighbours are a little upset with his lifestyle. They’ve painted it as a religious issue but surely the sociological and psychological aspects are far more fascinating? Anyone?
I mean, come on – you think the neighbours weren’t even slightly annoyed by the 170 kids? If you’ve had a few kids make a racket, imagine 170 of them raising a fuss in the back yard. Somehow I don’t think the whole family gets together very often…
And then there are the wives. Now Mr Bello has stated in that he intends to marry again and I ask you – how do the wives cope with it? Do they ‘save time’ by jumping him all at once? Are any of them comfortable with the other wives? Do they support themselves or is Mr Bello amusingly wealthy?
And as soon as we talk about wealth, there’s the inevitable question – why are they marrying him? Whether it’s consensual (I’m not saying it is) or arranged, what’s the rationale behind joining (having your daughter / sister join) a 250+ brood all surrounding one old man? Is there special social prestige involved with being wife #87? What about wife #1? Is she even still alive? What will they do when they get to wife #100?
And why does he want more? Has he lost his hearing (and is thus unaffected by being married to 86 individuals who like to talk)? When will he get help for his messiah complex? Has the social prestige granted to men of religious standing gone to his head or is he just a greedy bastard who’s using religion to accumulate women (and thus, in a non-typical sense, accumulating power)?
Here’s what I think – the man inspires jealousy and fear into those around him because he can do and has what other people don’t have and because people can’t understand him or the fact that he doesn’t operate within the same social code as they do. Religion is just the salad dressing here.
To take a parallel from popular culture – one of the main reasons critics are so antagonistic towards certain stars is because of what they get – high wages, superstar status, the public spotlight – for seemingly doing very little. So when they go all Britney, the public comes down hard on them – not for the failure but in vengeful lust borne out of a sense of inequality and insecurity.
Should they force this man to divorce his wives? Before they do that, they might want to study this micro-society – it may not be a lifestyle choice most people agree with but it’s a fascinating and rare opportunity to study human culture in a micro-society that rarely occurs in society anymore.